Hero inmates break out of holding cell to aid unconscious jailer

An inmate-led rescue in Texas is not the first time prisoners have risked their lives to save their guards.

Jenevieve Robbins/Texas Dept of Criminal Justice/Reuters
A jail cell is seen at the state penitentiary in Huntsville, Texas, in this 2010 file photo. Inmates being held at a the Parker County Courthouse in Texas broke out of a holding cell, not shown, last month to assist an unconscious guard.

Heroes come in many stripes, even gray and white ones.

In a holding cell in the basement of the Parker County Courthouse in Weatherford, Texas, there were eight heroes: inmates who risked their safety to help a guard on June 23. Merely seconds after joking with them, the guard appeared to lose consciousness, slumping over in his chair.

"He just fell over," said inmate Nick Kelton in an interview with a local TV station. "Looked like an act. Could have died right there."

Handcuffed, shackled, and detained behind a locked door, the prisoners broke out of their room to tend to the guard, as they shouted and banged for help so loudly that deputies upstairs in the courthouse heard them and rushed downstairs.

"We were worried they’re going to come with guns drawn on us," Mr. Kelton said.

When the deputies arrived, they found the anxious inmates standing over the guard. They ushered the inmates back into their cell and one deputy performed CPR on the guard as the inmates looked on, until the man regained consciousness.

“He had keys, had a gun. It could have been an extremely bad situation,” said Parker County Sheriff’s Sgt. Ryan Speegle in a TV interview, referring to the unconscious guard.

The inmates likely saved the guard's life, say police.

“It never crossed my mind not to help, whether he’s got a gun or a badge. If he falls down, I’m gonna help him,” said Kelton, a self-described meth addict facing his fourth trip to prison.

This isn’t the first time striped heroes have saved the lives of their guards. In Tampa in 2009, four inmates fought off another prisoner who snuck up behind a guard and started choking him.

"I hit him with the hardest punch I could and an elbow to try to get him to let go," prisoner Jerry Dieguez Jr. told the Tampa Bay Times after fending off the attacker. Mr. Dieguez was in jail on charges of home invasion robbery and opposing an officer without violence.

In 2015, a group of inmates at Rikers Island jail in New York rescued a female correction officer from attempted rape. And in 2012, just hours after his sentencing, Antonio Duane Brown defended a female corrections officer in a Grand Rapids, Mich., jail from an inmate attacker, saving her life.

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