California jail reviews security after unarmed officers shot

Juanita Davila and Toamalama Scanlan

Two unarmed correctional officers were in critical condition after an ex-convict shot them Saturday in the Fresno County jail lobby, prompting officials to reconsider security at the jail.

The incident started when suspect Thong Vang, who was visiting someone at the jail, entered the lobby, the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office said.

The two officers were each shot once in the neck and head area after Thong Vang, 37, entered the jail lobby and began to exhibit weird behavior. He is scheduled to be booked into the Fresno County Jail on felony charges, which will include attempted murder.

“In 1998, he was sentenced to 19 years in prison on multiple rape charges involving teenagers aged 14 and under”. He says the jail lobby is closed but may reopen later in the day.

Authorities say the officers were trying to get him to sit down when shots rang out. An estimated 15 adult and child bystanders fled, according to the AP.

Officers inside the jail ran to the lobby, where a lieutenant shot at Vang, who returned fire, Botti said. No one was hit. “He has not had any criminal violations until today”, the Sheriff’s Office said.

Botti said arming correctional officers isn’t something that can be done overnight, since officers are not required to complete an arrest and firearms course like a sheriff’s deputy.

The gunman, 37-year-old Thong Vang, reportedly became upset when he was told he couldn’t cut the line of visitors, and displayed “signs of weird behavior by pacing back and forth next to a metal detector”, the statement said.

It wasn’t immediately clear if Vang had an attorney who could comment on his behalf.

Officers Juanita Davila and Toamalama Scanlan were hospitalized after the shooting Saturday at the Fresno County Jail.

Vang was taken into custody and transported to the hospital for minor scrapes and cuts.

The injured officers were dragged out of the lobby and taken to the hospital to undergo surgery.

A jail will not change its security protocol, despite a shooting that left two officers wounded Saturday.

Sheriff’s spokesman Tony Botti says officers from the secured areas inside the jail ran to the lobby, where a lieutenant fired shots at the gunman, identified as 37-year-old Thong Vang.

Authorities have booked into jail an ex-convict accused of shooting and wounding two unarmed officers inside a central California jail. At that point, Vang pulled out a gun and shot both Officers Davila and Scanlan in the head or neck area. Authorities say two unarmed officers were critically injured after being shot by a visitor.