UPDATE: Two more inmate attacks at Columbus prisons Wednesday

By DEUCE NIVEN

tribdeuce@tabor-loris.com

Wednesday

     Two inmates were stabbed inside state prisons in Columbus County on Wednesday, bringing to three the number of inmate-on-inmate assaults this week.

     All three inmates have been treated at a hospital for their injuries and returned to their prisons, NC Department of Public Safety spokeswoman Sonja Bennett-Bellamy said Wednesday afternoon.

     An inmate stabbed at Tabor Correctional Institution near Tabor City about 7 a.m. Wednesday was taken by ambulance to Columbus Regional, treated, and returned to the prison within three and a half hours, Bennett-Bellamy said.

     Five inmate suspects have been identified in that attack and placed in restrictive housing as an “outside law enforcement agency” investigates, Bennett-Bellamy said. It was unclear Wednesday afternoon what agency was investigating, with Columbus County Sheriff’s Office and Tabor City Police Department representatives saying they had no record of the incident.

     Law enforcement was consulting with the District Attorney’s office on possible charges against all five Wednesday afternoon, Bennett-Bellamy said.

     An inmate at Columbus Correctional Institution near the town of Brunswick, assaulted about 8:50 a.m. Wednesday, was back at the prison by mid-afternoon after being treated at the hospital in Whiteville, and interviwed by Columbus County Sheriff’s Office detectives there, Bennett-Bellamy said.

     Kenneth M. Pickett, 56, was stabbed several times in the Columbus Correctional attack, sheriff’s spokeswoman Michelle Tatum said.

     That inmate was attacked with “some homemade weapon and a lock inside a sock,” Bennett-Bellamy said.

     Inmates have access to padlocks which are used to secure their lockers.

     No weapon has been recovered, and no suspect identified in that attack, Bennett-Bellamy said.

     An internal investigation is ongoing in the stabbing of an inmate at Tabor Correctional Tuesday morning, Bennett-Bellamy said. Outside law enforcement was not called to investigate that case, with the internal investigation focusing on prison policies and procedures, she said.

     Look for updates here as events warrant, and the complete story in the next Tabor-Loris Tribune in print and online.

Tuesday

     An inmate at Tabor Correctional Institution was stabbed by another Tuesday morning, the extent of his injuries not reported by late in the afternoon.

     That inmate was taken to a hospital for treatment, NC Department of Public Safety spokeswoman Sonja Bennett-Bellamy said Tuesday morning. She could provide no other details, but stressed that the inmate was alive when he was taken to the hospital.

     NCDPS is apparently handling the investigation. Tabor City Police Chief Donald Dowless and Columbus County Sheriff Lewis Hatcher each said their agency had not been contacted about the incident.