Correctional officers at the Maryland Penitentiary found a cheap, .25-caliber handgun hidden in a metal column yesterday morning during their continuing search of the prison's C-dormitory following last week's inmate uprising.
"We believe that it is the second gun we were looking for," said Sgt. Gregory M. Shipley, spokesman for the state Division of Correction. "The search has been incredibly slow and meticulous in a very difficult situation. Officers found it on their own," without help from inmates.
The semiautomatic gun, described by Sergeant Shipley as a "Saturday night special type with no brand on it," was loaded with four bullets.
Palm-sized and concealed in a work glove, the gun is believed to be one of two used in last Tuesday's takeover of the prison dormitory in which two guards were held hostage.
The other gun believed used in the incident, a loaded .32-caliber revolver, was found Thursday hidden in a pipe conduit behind two cells.
The 23-hour standoff, eventually resolved without injury, was the result of a botched escape attempt.
Sergeant Shipley said that about 8 a.m. yesterday a set of keys and three homemade knives similar to ice picks were also found inside the metal column that runs from the floor to the fifth tier of cells in the dormitory.
The 4-inch by 4-inch column houses the mechanism that allows the cells to be locked.
"You could probably see from the top of the column down to the floor, and on the fifth level they found an open space and decided to check," Sergeant Shipley said. "They felt down there and lying on some of the bars that lock the cells was this glove with a handgun in it."
While the search of the 19th-century prison building known as C-dorm continued yesterday for a third set of missing cellblock keys, more than 200 inmates remained in tents in the dusty prison yard, where they have been since Officer Larry Hughes, 31, and Officer Gary Wooten, 29, were released unharmed a day after the crisis began.
Sergeant Shipley said that all C-dorm locks are in the process of being changed in the event that the third set of keys is not found.
"The inmates in the yard are fine; there's about 200 of them; they're calling it Operation Desert Con," Sergeant Shipley said. "They're being given plenty of water and juice and food and a makeshift hose is hooked up out there for them to cool down. Some of them commented that it's cooler at night in the yard than it is in the dormitory."
Once the search is completed, which could take another couple of days, officials will begin making arrangements to move the prisoners back into the dormitory.
Sergeant Shipley said the column where the gun and the homemade knives were found "will need to be checked from now on, or something will be done to block it up."