A prison inmate being transferred to jail after a court appearance shot two deputies, killing one, in Council Bluffs, Iowa, on Monday, according to authorities.
“I’ve been in law enforcement for 40 years, and sheriff for 25. This is one of the things you hope you never have to go through,” said Pottawattamie County Sheriff Jeff Danker.
Sheriff’s deputy Mark Burbridge, 43, a 12-year veteran of the department, died of the injuries he received after the shooting, said the sheriff. Another deputy, Pat Morgan, 59, remains hospitalized.
“It’s a huge shock,” Danker said. “It’s such a tragedy.”
The shooting occurred as the deputies were transferring Welsely Correa-Carmenaty and a female prisoner out of a prison transport van an into the jail, said the sheriff. “Carmenaty assaulted both deputies, grabbed one of the guns, and shot them both,” he said.
It’s unclear which deputies gun was used in the shooting, said Danker
After the shooting, Carmenaty fled the scene in the prisoner transport vehicle, crashing through the west door of the jail on his escape, authorities said, During his flight, he tried to carjack the driver of a pickup truck, confronting the driver and shooting him, before fleeing the scene again in the van. The driver’s injuries were not life-threatening.
A few minutes later, the van was found abandoned, Danker said. “A woman driving a black Nissan saw the van on the grass and stopped to see if anyone was injured,” said the sheriff. “Our suspect kidnapped her at gunpoint, and forced her back into the car,” he said, “before releasing her at a liquor store in Omaha.”
Danker said Omaha police started its pursuit of the suspect at that time. Carmenaty tried to enter the expressway but collided with a brick wall. He was arrested without incident, Danker said.
Carmenaty is currently being held in Douglas County jail on charges including of kidnapping, using a weapon to commit a felony, operating a vehicle to avoid arrest, and felon in possession of a firearm.
Prior to the shooting and subsequent escape, Carmentary was in the Pottawattamie County courthouse, where he received a 45- year sentence for a 2016 murder conviction.
“We had already agreed to a plea agreement,” said Matt Wilber the Pottawattamie County Attorney, “I never regretted one more, even at that moment not knowing what was going to go on later that morning. You work out a deal you think is fair, not saying it wasn’t fair, but he certainly didn’t look like he was learning any kind of lesson.”
As the investigation continues, law enforcement said cameras in the sallyport area of the jail will be reviewed in an attempt to get a timeline . Also, law enforcement will look into how the prisoners were restrained at the time of the incident. “The prisoners are handcuffed and shackled but sometimes they are able to defeat those restraints,” said the sheriff.
“Burbridge was a great guy, always happy, jovial. He was an excellent man. We are really going to miss him,” said Danker.