BUCKEYE, Ariz. (AP) – A female corrections officer held hostage in a prison guard tower for two weeks by two inmates showed her head above the structure’s hatch Sunday afternoon.

Corrections Department representative Alan Ecker confirmed it was the captive guard who appeared for a few minutes shortly before 1 p.m.

“The fact that she was able to make her way up says something about her mobility,” Ecker said.

Officials declined to comment on whether the sighting was part of negotiations but said it was not a wellness check. Some checks on the officer’s welfare have involved having her appear partly outside of the tower’s hatch, officials said.

On Saturday, one of the two inmates walked on the roof of the tower carrying what appeared to be a shotgun or rifle, the first time in the standoff at the Arizona State Prison Complex-Lewis that either inmate displayed a weapon.

The inmate swung the weapon, holding it by the barrel rather than the stock, and never aimed it.

Officials haven’t made public the inmate’s demands, but Cam Hunter, a Corrections Department spokeswoman, acknowledged that it’s reasonable to assume the pair are asking for more than just necessities.

Negotiators last saw the captive guard Tuesday, but they heard her voice Saturday during a telephone call monitored by health professionals. “They continue to feel that she is handling this well, that she is alert, they know she is mobile,” Hunter said Sunday.

The standoff at the 4,400-inmate prison in Buckeye, west of Phoenix, began Jan. 18. A second guard who was taken hostage in the tower, a man, was released Jan. 24.



On the Net:

Department of Corrections: http://www.adc.state.az.us/

AP-ES-02-01-04 1639EST



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