Prison Guard Fights Arrest with Gunfire A federal prison guard opened fire Wednesday on officials who came to arrest him and five others accused of bribing female inmates for sex. Steve Inskeep speaks to Bob Gabordi, executive editor of The Tallahassee Democrat, about the incident.

Prison Guard Fights Arrest with Gunfire

Prison Guard Fights Arrest with Gunfire

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A federal prison guard opened fire Wednesday on officials who came to arrest him and five others accused of bribing female inmates for sex. Steve Inskeep speaks to Bob Gabordi, executive editor of The Tallahassee Democrat, about the incident.

STEVE INSKEEP, host:

Yesterday's shootout in Tallahassee, Florida was especially startling because it took place in a prison, and because it did not involve inmates. Authorities say a prison guard killed a federal agent. Surviving agents then shot him. The Justice Department agents had come to arrest half a dozen correctional officers.

The allegations against the guards opened a window into life in at least one American prison. So this morning, we've called Bob Gabordi. He's the executive editor of the local newspaper, the Tallahassee Democrat.

Good morning, sir.

Mr. BOB GABORDI (Executive Editor, Tallahassee Democrat): Good morning.

INSKEEP: What were the guards allegedly doing?

Mr. GABORDI: Well, it came down to, over the course of about four years, they were alleged to have been trading contraband, which could include anything from drugs and alcohol, to money, for sex with the female prisoners.

INSKEEP: And this was a widespread scheme. I guess if it went on for years it must have been.

Mr. GABORDI: Well, it - the indictment says that it went on from 2002 on, that they're aware off. And it involved at least those six guards that were named in the indictment. But it also says that - and others. So we're not so sure exactly what that means yet.

INSKEEP: So the guards are accused of doing this to or with the female prisoners. What was the reputation of this federal prison before the news became known of these arrests?

Mr. GABORDI: Well, you know, it's interesting because it's kind of a quiet place. It is on one of our major roads in town, but it's also right next to one of the nicest parks in town. And so, you know, it's just there. And it sits back, you know, off the road and you really - it almost blends into the scenery. So there really has been no inclination that something like this might be going on. There's never - it's never in the news very much. So, you know, it was really a surprise.

INSKEEP: Hmm. How did this planned arrest become a shootout?

Mr. GABORDI: Well, the federal agents went in not expecting any trouble because there is, you know, a federal law that prohibits the carrying of weapons on federal property. So they expected the guards to be unarmed. One, however, did have a personal weapon and so things didn't go down exactly the way that they had expected.

They were in a lobby of the detention center, which is separate from the female prison. It's kind of a low-security area where prisoners that are going to be transported to other places are held. So they expected everything to, you know, be much qui - very quiet and not - they weren't prepared for this kind of thing.

INSKEEP: Many shots were fired here?

Mr. GABORDI: We're not sure about how many, but there were several.

INSKEEP: And, I suppose, as people go by that prison near that park today, they're thinking about it in a different way.

Mr. GABORDI: They are. And I will tell you that the scene was kind of surreal for a lot of folks. People drive by it in large numbers. It's on a road called Capital Circle, which rings the city and connects to all of the major roads. And so it's a very commercial, very retail-oriented area. And businesses across the street were just - they didn't even know that what was going on, but...

INSKEEP: Okay.

Mr. GABORDI: ...a lot of police cars.

INSKEEP: All right. Bob Gabordi of the Tallahassee Democrat, thanks very much.

Mr. GABORDI: You're welcome.

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