Utah inmates lock officers in cell, set fire outside

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Utah State Prison in Draper

Utah State Prison in Draper

SALT LAKE COUNTY, Utah (ABC4) – Two Utah inmates have been charged after they allegedly locked two corrections officers inside a cell and set a fire outside the chamber.

According to charging documents, on November 22, two corrections officers at Utah State Prison were roaming around the facility when they smelled a “strong alcoholic odor” coming from inside one of the cells.

An officer then told the two inmates in the cell, Taniela Salakielu and Samuela Lomu, that their cell was going to be searched.

Inside the cell, officers found a bag of fruit that “smelled strongly of alcohol.” Officers also found a bag of electronics that had “the names and number associated with the devices sanded off,” charging documents said.

One of the officers then began taking the electronic devices, to which Lomu responded by telling the officer he “would rip his head off” if he took the TV from the cell. According to charging documents, the officer responded to Lomu by taking the electronics and telling Lomu that he would be written up.

Lomu threatened the officers again.

Another inmate then shut the door as Salakielu tried to enter the cell, locking the two officers inside, the charges said.

The charges said that Loma continued to threaten the officers while they were locked inside and threw a metal box at the cell multiple times.

The officers were locked inside the cell for over an hour, charging documents said.

Surveillance video then showed Lomu and Salakielu walking into another cell, despite officer orders.

While inside the cell, the two inmates were seen “putting a sheet that’s on fire outside the cell and continued to add sheets to the fire,” the charges said.

Additional officers then entered the cell block to extinguish the fire and released the officers from the cell.

Lomu and Sakiela were taken into custody, the charges said

Investigators later spoke to Salakielu, who said he was “having a hard time remembering everything that happened cause he and his cellmate were drunk at the time,” the charges said.

When asked about his cell door being closed on the two corrections officers, Salakielu said “I think one of my homies closed it,” and that “things would have been a lot worse if the door wasn’t closed,” the charges said.

Salakielu later admitted to lighting the fire, but told investigators he didn’t know why.

Lomu is has been charged with aggravated kidnapping, rioting, and damaging a jail.

Salakielu has been charged of aggravated kidnapping and rioting.

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