Nurse, correctional officer dead at Iowa prison after inmate attacks multiple staff members

DES MOINES, Iowa – An inmate at Anamosa State Penitentiary killed a nurse and correctional officer Tuesday morning, according to a news release from the Iowa Department of Corrections.

Names are being withheld pending investigation and family notifications, according to the release. The incident is being investigated by the Iowa Department of Corrections and the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation.

The two deaths resulted from an inmate attacking multiple staff members and inmates at the prison’s infirmary, according to the news release. Staff were able to eventually restrain the inmate.

Anamosa State Penitentiary is a maximum- and medium-security prison with about 950 inmates and 321 staff, according to its website. Its 2019 annual report listed an average daily population of about 989 people. About 70% of the inmates were convicted of violent crimes and the average sentence being served is more than 25 years, according to the report.

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Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds will order flags flown at half-staff to honor the victims on the days of their internment, according to a news release from her office.

“Today, our state grieves the loss of two public servants who were attacked while on duty at the Anamosa State Penitentiary,” Reynolds said in a statement. “My prayers and deepest condolences are with their families, friends, and colleagues as they begin to cope with this senseless tragedy. We will exhaust every available resource to deliver justice to those who committed this act and bring a sense of closure and peace to the victims’ families.”

People stand outside a staff entrance at the Anamosa State Penitentiary, Tuesday, March 23, 2021, in Anamosa, Iowa. (Photo: Joseph Cress/Iowa City Press-Citizen)

State Rep. Lee Hein, who represents Anamosa in the legislature, called it a tragedy.

“This correctional facility has been a staple in our community for over a century and the workers there are vital public servants,” Hein wrote in a statement. “To think that two of these public servants lost their lives while on duty is devastating. I want to offer my most sincere condolences to the loved ones of the victims. I hope we will see justice brought to the assailant soon.”

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Iowa Council 61, which represents Iowa’s correctional officers, called it a sad day on Facebook.

“Two forgotten heroes who just went to work and now will never come home,” the post reads. “Thoughts and prayers to them and their families, both outside the walls and those who still hold the line.”

In previous attacks at other facilities, the union has blamed attacks by inmates on workers on low staffing levels.   

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