COLUMBIA COUNTY, Fla. - Graphic details have emerged of the event leading up to the killing of a correctional officer by an inmate in March 2012, as detailed in a report obtained by Channel 4.
Investigators said an inmate stabbed 24-year-old Sgt. Ruben Thomas 14 times at the Columbia County Correctional Institution, killing him.
Two more correctional officers at the institution were assaulted earlier this week by another inmate convicted of murder.
Paula Thomas, Thomas' mother, said one thing is clear according to the report -- inmate Richard Franklin (pictured below) planned to ambush Thomas.
Franklin was convicted of Thomas' murder last year and sentenced to death.
Thomas was training to fulfill his dream as a game warden. He loved the outdoors, but most importantly, he adored his family -- daughter Emma and his pregnant fiance.
"Just so excited about the baby and watching his little girl grow," Paula Thomas said of her son.
According to the investigation report, Ruben Thomas followed Franklin into his cell after Franklin called him on the intercom.
Franklin put him in a headlock, and Thomas' radio and personal body alarm fell down a floor.
Thomas got away and Franklin chased after him across the catwalk and down the stairs to a door, which was immediately opened for him. The chase continued to another door that the other officer working opened for Thomas.
Thomas tried to close it but the inmate grabbed the handle.
The two began a tug of war over the door, and each time Franklin pulled open the door he stabbed Thomas, as the other officer repeatedly radioed for assistance. According to the report, Franklin stabbed Thomas with a shank made by a fellow inmate from a piece of metal pipe.
"I don't think a lot of people understand that there are murderers walking around in an open cell population, and I think that they should be classified differently amongst themselves than with somebody who has maybe written a bad check and is in prison," Paula Thomas said.
She said the prison definitely needs more guards working, especially at night.
"The ratio is awful," Paula Thomas said. "It's two to around 200, and there's no way that they could protect themselves if needed."
When help arrived, Franklin attacked another officer, hitting his eye with a metal lock and stealing his mace.
Then Franklin broke the fire suppression system, causing one of the quads to flood.
the assistant warden arrived, deploying the Designated Armed Response Team, and after Franklin refused several commands to drop his weapons, a sergeant shot the inmate with a less-lethal rubber ball round. Franklin fell to the floor and the team restrained him.
"It breaks my heart to know that this man continues and will continue to sit on death row for 20, 25 years, and if, even then, if anything would be done, and we have to deal with the loss every day of not having our son with us," Paula Thomas said. "I just would pray that there are some type of changes that could help the officers who are out there who are basically just trying to make a living for their families just like my son was doing."
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