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2 inmates dead after Nebraska regains control of prison

TECUMSEH, Neb. — Two inmates were found dead Monday at a maximum security prison in southeast Nebraska after officials regained control of the facility.

Inmates took control of at least part of the Tecumseh State Correctional Institution Sunday during an incident when two staff members and two inmates were injured, according to the state Department of Correctional Services.

Staff members were attempting to break up a large gathering of inmates in front of a housing unit when the disturbance began, James Foster, a department spokesman, said in a statement.

Foster said officers regained control of the facility that houses 11 death row inmates on Monday. The Nebraska State Patrol is investigating the deaths.

There were no reports of any escapes.

Smoke rose from two housing units on Sunday and driveways to the prison were blocked, the Lincoln Journal Star reported. But prison officials said the exterior of the facility was secured by Sunday evening and all staffers were accounted for.

Early Monday, no more smoke could be seen and employees were being allowed into the facility.

The Journal Star reported it received a call from inmate Jeffry Frank just before 11 p.m. Sunday via a case manager’s office phone.

“We’ve pretty much taken the whole prison,” Frank told the newspaper.

He said that no prison employees were inside the housing unit and described the scene, saying: “The ceilings are fallen. There’s drywall on fire. There’s cameras torn down,” according to the Journal Star.

Foster told the Omaha World-Herald that inmates had gained access to an office with a phone.

The 960-bed Tecumseh State Correctional Institution opened in 2001 in Johnson County, about 60 miles southwest of Lincoln.

ANNA GRONEWOLD, Associated Press