nb_cid nb_clickOther -tt-nb this.style.behavior='url(#default#homepage)';this.setHomePage('http://www.aol.com/?mtmhp=acm50ieupgradebanner_112313 network-banner-empty upgradeBanner
14
Search AOL Mail
AOL Mail
Video
Video
AOL Favorites
Favorites
Menu

Florida jail explosion kills 2 inmates, 3 missing

More Than 100 Injured, Two Killed After Fla. Jail Collapse


PENSACOLA, Fla. (AP) - An apparent gas explosion all but destroyed a jail in the Florida Panhandle, killing two inmates, leaving three others missing and injuring as many as 150 people inside the building, authorities said Thursday.

The blast late Wednesday created a chaotic scene as injured inmates were bused to hospitals and others were taken to nearby jails because the crippled building had to be evacuated.

"The explosion shook us so hard it was like we were in an earthquake," Monique Barnes, an inmate who said she was knocked off her fourth-floor bunk, told The Associated Press by phone. "It was like a movie, a horrible, horrible movie."

Pieces of glass and brick were strewn about on the ground outside the jail and the front of the building appeared bowed, with cracks throughout.

Barnes, who spoke to AP after she was taken to another jail, said she and other inmates complained of smelling gas ahead of the blast, and some reported headaches.

At a news conference, Escambia County Sheriff David Morgan wouldn't comment on whether inmates complained about gas. He said three inmates were unaccounted for and the jail was almost completely destroyed.

Authorities blocked off roads leading to the detention center and relatives and attorneys for the inmates stood behind police tape, trying to figure out where loved ones had been taken and who was injured and killed.

About 600 inmates - 200 men and 400 women - were in the building at the time of the explosion. Barnes said during the evacuation, hundreds of inmates and corrections officers had to use one stairwell, "everyone pushing and bleeding."

County spokeswoman Kathleen Castro said authorities did not yet know the extent of the injuries, but local hospitals said some inmates had already been released. The sheriff said a corrections officer was seriously injured.

The names of the two inmates killed in the explosion weren't immediately released.

The Pensacola area was drenched by rains and severely flooded Tuesday and Wednesday as part of a large storm system making its way across the U.S. Castro said the building was running on generator power. Barnes said the toilets weren't working, so they had to use plastic trash bags.

Officials don't know yet whether the flooding and explosion were related. The fire marshal would ultimately determine the cause.

A couple of blocks from the jail, Ellis Robinson and his family awoke to a loud noise, their home rattling.

"It shook the whole house," he said. "I got up, the dog started barking, people were running up there."

He said he spent the night observing the chaos as inmates were loaded into buses.

Defense attorney Gene Mitchell stood behind the police tape Thursday, reviewing dozens of text messages from clients' relatives.

"I have over 20 clients in there," he said. "I've had dozens of calls. Every other call is a family member wanting to know what has happened to a loved one."

He said he hasn't been able to get much information about the inmates. Castro said officials were having trouble notifying families because it wasn't safe to enter the jail to access computers and paper records.

By midday Thursday, there were dozens of firefighters in hard hats going in and out of the building.

At one point during the sheriff's news conference, a woman whose son was in the jail interrupted, demanding to know what happened to her son. Sheila Travis said she had called hospitals and couldn't get any information. The sheriff said officials were doing all they could.

Escambia County took over the jail, its operations and its 400 employees from the sheriff's office on Oct. 1 after a five-year federal investigation of the facility. According to the Pensacola News Journal, the investigation found that inadequate management of the jail had led to violations of the inmates' rights.

Problems included a low number of guards overseeing the inmates, which led to high levels of violence among the inmates, inadequate mental health care and a decades-long practice of segregating inmates by race. Morgan has been sheriff, an elected position, since 2009.

Join the discussion

1000|Char. 1000  Char.
raptureready1958 May 01 2014 at 4:51 PM

Did they check the ceilings,. /they might be stuck to it.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
1 reply
Chickiepoo raptureready1958 May 01 2014 at 7:01 PM

I might have expected a comment such as that from someone else....but after having
read your comments many many times........I would NOT have expected that from
you "raptureready1958".......

Flag Reply 0 rate up
cindy May 01 2014 at 5:02 PM

Those inmates that are missing are in Cuba by now and will be living good..

Flag Reply +1 rate up
1 reply
Franco cindy May 01 2014 at 11:31 PM

Joe, is that you? I lost track will all that smoke!

Flag Reply 0 rate up
terwalk2 May 02 2014 at 4:58 PM

be lots of lawuitrsa over this 1. specially blacks. semper fi e1

Flag Reply 0 rate up
Hello Annefrost1 May 02 2014 at 9:43 AM

A definete one way get out of jail free card.

Flag Reply 0 rate up
JEFFERSODA May 01 2014 at 11:40 PM

Good idea!

Flag Reply 0 rate up
Franco May 01 2014 at 11:29 PM

Hey Joe, lets blow ourselves out of this pen and lets take the kid killa with us. The three of of will be greatly missed. :O)

Flag Reply 0 rate up
netecutli May 01 2014 at 11:26 PM

That's one way to go on a field trip.

Flag Reply 0 rate up
cbcmkting May 01 2014 at 6:46 PM

Well guess that take over worked out well huh?? Now question is are the missing dead or used it to disapear?

Flag Reply 0 rate up
danyelle69marks May 01 2014 at 5:57 PM

i know florida is south, but segregating the inmates?? really? the place needed to blow up.

Flag Reply 0 rate up
1 reply
Marguerite danyelle69marks May 01 2014 at 7:08 PM

if you ever watch any of these shows about jails you would see most the time nmates segregate themselves by race.. i bet they do this to prevent fights etc

Flag Reply 0 rate up
terwalk2 May 02 2014 at 4:59 PM

ss bout ttypos,my fingers r taped up

Flag Reply 0 rate up
aol~~ 1209600

Voting...

More From Our Partners