A prison escape in Haiti has authorities scrambling to find the inmates and assure the safety of a small town. Saturday, at least 174 prisoners broke out of a facility located in Arcahaie, known as Lakayè, in the Ouest department of Haiti. The prisoners killed a guard as they escaped from the overcrowded prison.
In a statement issued by Haitian officials, it was revealed that a melee occurred possibly as the prisoners were taking showers. The inmates stole several weapons, and a gunfight took place. It is not known how the prisoners were able to break into an area used by the guards. One guard was fatally shot, and one prisoner fell to his death. The inmates, who do not wear uniforms, were able to blend with the rest of the population.
A manhunt led by Haitian police and U.N. peacekeepers has resulted in the capturing of about a dozen fugitives. Inspector Garry Desrosiers, the national police spokesman, said they were able to capture the inmates after combing through the area and finding 12 men without any documentation to identify themselves. Desrosiers explained:
“The inmates broke into an area used by the guards, stealing at least five rifles among other weapons. One guard was shot dead.”
Haiti’s Minister Of Justice Camille Edouard Junior confirmed that one prisoner lost his life as he was trying to flee. The prisoner, whose identity has not been revealed, fell off a wall and suffered a fatal head injury during the escape.
Speaking to local media, Edouard Junior said that residents in the area are cooperating and have been asked to be careful because the men are heavily armed. Mr. Edouard Junior added:
“One guard was killed during the incident. Three prisoner were wounded, including one who died as a consequence of his wounds.”
The US Embassy located in Port-au-Prince has issued a statement urging American citizens to avoid Arcahaie until the other fugitives are caught. The warning described the incident as a “violent prison break.”
The news of the prison escape came just weeks after Haiti, that was slowly rebuilding itself after a massive 2011 earthquake, was once more devastated. This time it was Hurricane Matthew, which left over a thousand dead.
Haiti is also on shaky ground politically speaking after having its presidential election was postponed several times since former President Michel Martelly‘s term ended.