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Calif. prison guard released unharmed after 10-hour standoff

The Associated Press

SACRAMENTO, California- A female correctional officer was released unharmed after a 10-hour hostage standoff that prompted a lockdown at California State Prison, Sacramento, authorities said.

Michael David Watson, 41, released the hostage, Sheila Mitchell, 45, without incident shortly after 5 p.m. Saturday, according to prison spokeswoman Lt. Joyce McClendon.

The standoff began around 7 a.m. when Watson, armed with a 6-inch (15-centimeter) metal knife made in the prison, grabbed Mitchell in the prison dining room and pulled her into an office, officials said. It was unclear how many inmates were in the dining room at the time.

The prison was secured and placed on full lockdown, as officials negotiated over the phone with Watson, a maximum-security inmate who had been assigned to work in the dining room. Authorities would not say if Watson had any demands or what led to the release.

Neither Watson nor Mitchell, a correctional officer for nine years, were injured. Mitchell was sent to an outside hospital for evaluation.

The prison remained on lockdown Saturday night as officials continued their investigation, McClendon said.

Watson was serving a 26-year sentence for robbery and false imprisonment after being convicted in San Diego County. He had been scheduled to be released from prison in August 2012.

It was the fifth hostage-taking at state prisons since 1995, and all have ended safely, according to George Kostyrko, spokesman for the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

Copyright Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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