At least four inmates jumped a state correctional officer before he was stabbed seven times inside the Maryland House of Correction in Jessup, taking his radio so that he could not call for help, his wife said yesterday.
Edouardo F. Edouazin, 28, was returning an inmate to his cell, alone, when the 38-year-old man -- who is serving a life sentence for murder and whose name has not been released -- attacked him with a homemade knife, officials said.
Much of Edouazin's powerful frame bore the marks of the attack: The Haitian-born man was stabbed Friday afternoon in the stomach, chest and back, and also was injured on his head.
Recovering in his Silver Spring apartment yesterday, Edouazin moved slowly and winced often as he clutched his back. His arms were covered in gauze, stitches lined his left brow and another wound marked his left cheek.
He was treated at Maryland Shock Trauma Center and was released Friday evening.
Edouazin's wife, Elizabeth, 27, said inmates threatened him when he began working there in November, although she said that none had made threats recently. Union officials have said the inmate who is accused of attacking Edouazin had recently complained about losing his television privileges and had threatened to hurt an officer.
Elizabeth Edouazin asked why her husband had to return the inmate to the cell by himself.
"They shouldn't be alone; there should be at least three or four of them," she said.
She said that at least four inmates were involved in the attack on her husband. Prisons spokesman Mark Vernarelli said officials were investigating whether other inmates were involved.
The latest attack on a Maryland correctional officer has galvanized state officials, who have vowed to improve security and staffing throughout the troubled system. It was the second time in less than a year that an officer has been stabbed in the maximum-security prison, which union leaders representing correctional officers have long complained is understaffed. Officer David McGuinn was killed last July when inmates wielding homemade knives jammed open their cell doors, allowing them to carry out the attack.
Edouazin moved to this country two years ago and worked as a security guard before enrolling in a training program for correctional officers.
Edouazin was beginning to describe how he was attacked yesterday when his supervisor recommended that he not speak with a reporter without other prison officials present.
Moments later, Maj. Priscilla Doggett, a spokeswoman for the Division of Correction, called the reporter and said an interview could interfere with the investigation. Doggett ordered the reporter to leave Edouazin's house and said she was "very upset" that The Sun had contacted him.
She would not say what triggered the attack. Prison officials said Friday that Edouazin was likely too new to have been placed on a "hit list" by inmates.
"This is an open investigation, and at this point there has not been any definite determination as to what caused the incident," Doggett said.
She declined to name any of the inmates who might have been involved in the attack.
Security in Maryland prisons was the subject of heated rhetoric in last year's gubernatorial contest, with Gov. Martin O'Malley criticizing then-Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s record after two officers and several inmates were killed in separate incidents.
O'Malley appeared at a candlelight vigil Friday night at Shock Trauma, saying his administration would "move just as quickly as we can to create a safer environment."
Bernard Ralph, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 1678, praised O'Malley's swift response, saying correctional officers were impressed that he and Gary D. Maynard, head of the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, came to the hospital.
"We were all pleased," he said, noting that Edouazin was known as a dedicated officer. "From what everybody said, he was one of these persons who really cared about his work."
Ralph added: "But the staff is still concerned about the lack of equipment and the lack of leadership in that facility."