Inmates Evacuated To The Centre Under High Security

Reporter: Shannon Samson

New Media Producer: Kerry Corum

Update, Tuesday, 9:24 p.m: Dispatchers just reported that all of the inmates have been removed from the Centre in downtown Evansville.

Previously: The third floor inmates who were evacuated to the rooftop recreation area couldn't stay there because of the intense heat and limited access to the restrooms. So, jailers decided to move them and they're now in an air conditioned ballroom of the convention facility across the street.

Getting them to the Centre had its share of challenges. It was "prisoners on parade" as officers escorted third-floor inmates from the jail to the Centre. With every set of handcuffs already in use, plastic zip straps were used to shackle the men to each other, as dozens of armed guards helped move the line and canine units stood guard.

Vanderburgh County Chief Deputy Eric Williams says, "Probably the most challenging part is just getting everybody organized, so you have people where they need to be and you keep all the lines of communication open, so that everybody knows what's going on."

And there were plenty of people to keep informed, as officers from as far away as Henderson stopped by to lend a hand to this situation.

Henderson Police Chief Ed Brady tells us, "It's amazing how people do pull together in situations like this, but certainly, they look like they're on top of it. We may not be needed. If we are, we'll be ready to help."

Inside the makeshift jail, security is tight around the grand ballroom.

Vanderburgh County Sheriff Brad Ellsworth explains, "We'll post guards around the building and around that room, and we're separating them by cell over in that area. It's a huge room. It will hold the people and not worry about getting facilities in there, and keeping it orderly."
Williams continues, "Actually, I would say by the time we're done with it this evening, it will be more secure than the jail. You're going to have a difficult time getting in and out of there because we're going to be on an extremely heightened situation, watching for anything and everything that could possibly happen."

Sheriff Ellsworth says the inmates at the Centre will be transported back to the jail and spend the night on the second floor. Earlier, the inmates who were originally on that floor were evacuated to the Circuit Courtroom in the Civic Center's adjacent building. They will now be transported to jails in Henderson and Daviess Counties in Kentucky and Posey, Warrick and Gibson Counties in Indiana at a cost to Vanderburgh County taxpayers of roughly $35 a day per inmate.