Home U.S 'Senseless tragedy': Inmate attacks, kills nurse and correctional officer at Iowa prison

'Senseless tragedy': Inmate attacks, kills nurse and correctional officer at Iowa prison

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DES MOINES, Iowa – An inmate killed a nurse and correctional officer at a state penitentiary in Iowa Tuesday, officials said, in what they called a senseless tragedy and the worst attack on prison staff in decades. 

The attack at Anamosa State Penitentiary, which houses those convicted of violent crimes, happened Tuesday morning in the prison’s infirmary, according to the Iowa Department of Corrections.

Officials said an inmate attacked multiple staff members and inmates. Staff eventually restrained the inmate, and employees began attempting first aid on those injured until paramedics arrived.

“As a result of their injuries, a correctional nurse and correctional officer have died,” the department said in a statement. 

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A Jones County Sheriff's vehicle parks outside the Anamosa State Penitentiary, Tuesday, March 23, 2021, in Anamosa, Iowa.

The deadly attack in Iowa sent “shockwaves across our professional landscape,” said Correctional Leaders Association Executive Director Kevin Kempf, and set in motion mourning across the city of 5,500 people, where the hulking prison dominates the landscape and daily life.

“Today, our state grieves the loss of two public servants who were attacked while on duty at the Anamosa State Penitentiary,” Gov. Kim 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.

Inmates have routinely assaulted staff at Anamosa, including several incidents involving punches and kicks that caused injuries and required medical treatment in the last year. But the deaths are believed to be the first time an Iowa prison staff member has been killed by an inmate since 1972.

“You know so many people that work there, so you worry…” said Micaela Loewen, 31, who has worked at a Anamosa hair salon for 13 years, although she lives in Cedar Rapids. “Is it someone you know?”



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