Fri, Jun 23, 2006 - Page 7 News List

Gunfight in Florida jail leaves guard, investigator dead

SHOOTOUT Bullets flew in a jail on Wednesday after FBI agents and Justice Department Investigators attempted to arrest a prison guard

AP , TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA

A furious gun battle erupted inside a federal prison when a guard opened fire on FBI agents who had come to arrest him and several others on charges of having sex with female inmates in exchange for money and contraband. Two people were killed and another was wounded.

The guard and a US Justice Department investigator were killed in the shootings on Wednesday. A prison employee was hospitalized.

Six guards in all had been indicted on Tuesday on charges they had sex with female inmates by bribing them with money and contraband in a scheme that went on for two years.

When FBI agents and Justice Department investigators arrived at the prison on Wednesday to arrest the men, one of the indicted guards shot a federal correctional officer, said FBI spokesman John Girgenti. He said the officers fired back.

The guard fired with a personal weapon, wounding a Bureau of Prisons employee who was assisting with the arrest. Agents from the Justice Department's inspector general's office returned fire, killing the guard. A Justice Department agent was killed in the exchange. It was not immediately clear who fired that fatal shot.

Officials did not release the gunman's identity, but lawyer Tim Jansen said the dead guard was Ralph Hill, his client. The slain Justice Department agent was identified as William "Buddy" Sentner, 44.

The identity of the survivor was not disclosed, but he was reported to be in a stable condition.

Folmar declined to discuss details until an FBI team due to begin work yesterday completes an investigation into the shooting.

Jansen said Hill's behavior was "totally out of character" for the Air Force veteran.

"He had no criminal history or issues of violence in his background," Jansen said.

Hill, 43, had voluntarily supplied a saliva sample after authorities began investigating the sex-for-contraband scandal in November, Jansen said.

The detention center houses mostly men who are being processed before entering the prison system and is part of the Tallahassee Federal Correctional Institution. A low-security prison for female inmates is next to the detention center.

In addition to the sex charges, the guards were accused of threatening to plant contraband in inmates' belongings or have them sent to other institutions farther from their families if they reported the illegal activity.

According to the indictment, the guards showed inmates information about themselves and inmates on the prison computer system to prove that their threats were real. It said the guards switched assignments to arrange trysts with inmates.

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