Crime & Courts

Death Row inmates stab prison guard

Two notorious Death Row inmates from the Midlands stabbed a prison guard Wednesday morning with a makeshift metal weapon at Lieber Correctional Institution in Ridgeville.

The guard's injuries are not life-threatening. The officer's name was not released, pending notification of the family. The officer suffered multiple stab wounds and was in stable condition at the Medical University of South Carolina, said Josh Gelinas, spokesman for the S.C. Department of Corrections.

The inmates are awaiting death sentences after their convictions for separate multistate killing sprees. Both also burned victims' bodies after shooting them.

The accused are Quincy Jovan Allen, 30, who was convicted of murder in Richland County in 2005, and Mikal Mahdi, 26, who was convicted of murder in Calhoun County in 2004, Gelinas said.

Corrections officials said the guard was monitoring the two inmates in an outdoor recreational area next to the Death Row housing area around 9 a.m. when the attack occurred.

Death Row inmates are allowed to spend one hour outside each day, Gelinas said.

The inmates allegedly stabbed the guard repeatedly, but he was able to escape. Other officers inside the Death Row dormitory used pepper spray to subdue the inmates, Gelinas said.

The State Law Enforcement Division is investigating, Gelinas said. The agency investigates prison attacks when someone is killed, seriously injured, sexually assaulted or held hostage, he said.

Investigators would not release a motive for the attack. They also are not sure how the inmates got their hands on metal that could be turned into a weapon.

"We don't provide inmates with any metal that could be crafted like this," Gelinas said. "How they were able to acquire it will be determined in the investigation."

Allen was sentenced to death in 2007 after a two-month killing spree in South Carolina and North Carolina.

Allen shot and killed Dale Hale with a shotgun near I-77 in Columbia. He then burned her body. A month later, he used a shotgun to kill Jedediah Harr, a bystander in an argument at a restaurant on Two Notch Road.

Allen also used a homeless man in Finlay Park for target practice with his shotgun. He was under the delusion he was training to become a Mafia hit man.

Allen also has been sentenced to death in North Carolina for killing two men during the same spree.

Mahdi gunned down Orangeburg Public Safety Capt. James Myers in July 2004 and set the body on fire with diesel fuel.

At the time, Mahdi was fleeing police after killing a North Carolina convenience store clerk a week earlier. He had been hiding in a shed on Myers' farm.

Mahdi then stole Myers' unmarked police pickup truck and his law enforcement gear, including weapons and ammunition. He was captured in Florida.

When Mahdi pleaded guilty to Myers' murder in 2006, deputies in the courtroom found a homemade, half-inch handcuff key in his pocket.

At 23, he became the youngest person on South Carolina's Death Row.

The S.C. Supreme Court upheld both prisoners' death sentences earlier this year.

Both inmates have been placed in single-cell confinement in an area reserved for disorderly inmates, Gelinas said. Other inmates at Lieber, in the Lowcountry's Dorchester County, have had their movement restricted while the investigation continues.

Each of the state's 56 Death Row inmates is allowed one hour per day outside their cells, and Gelinas said it's not uncommon for several inmates to be together in the recreation yard.