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Two Break Out of Maximum Security Prison in S.C.

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -- State Corrections Department officials say two inmates serving time on burglary convictions escaped from Evans Correctional Institution on Sunday after being shot at by an officer.

The department says 26-year-old Robert Fortener Diehl and 25-year-old Jonathan Melton apparently had help breaking out of the maximum security facility in Marlboro County early Sunday morning. When an alarm went off, an officer went to the fence at the rear of the facility.

The officer fired four rounds from his shotgun, but officials didn't know if the inmates, who were between the inner and outer fences, had been struck.

Searchers found the outside fence cut, said Charlie Sheppard, the department's Inspector General.

The two had to climb over an interior fence, including razor wire, Sheppard said. "So there's a good chance they're pretty cut up," he said.

Melton was serving 18 years for burglarly, grand larceny and conspiracy in Horry and Richland counties. Diehl was serving 15 years for charges including burglary, forgery and possession a stolen vehicle. All of his sentences are from Horry County.

Sheppard said the Corrections Department and the State Law Enforcement Division are searching for the escapees.

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