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Anthony Conley and Tyler Jones

COOPER — Two inmates who attempted to flee the Delta County Jail while heading to a recreation break Wednesday evening will now face additional charges.

According to the Delta County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page, Tyler Jones and Anthony Conley were heading to the recreation area of the jail with two jailers at 7 p.m. when they made a break for it, attacking the jailer and dispatcher on duty, though the pair never made it out of the door of the jail and were eventually corralled back into their cells.

“One of the inmates attacked the jailer, choking her to the ground,” the post reads. “The other inmate broke into the dispatch area, attacked the dispatcher and began trying to open the outside cell doors through electronic controls.”

Two other inmates, Gerald Thomas and Matthew Morris, jumped in to help the jailer. Thomas and Morris serve as trustees in the jail, where they are allowed to help cook, clean and do yard work around the jail as part of a trusted status, according to Sheriff Rickey Smith.

“Gerald Thomas and Matthew Morris responded to assist and they began pursuit of the inmates,” the Facebook post reads. “The trustees were able to restrain inmate Jones in the sally port (garage area of the jail).”

He was proud of the work the trustees did, Smith said.

“I would also like to commend the actions of the trustees,” he said. “They saw members of our staff in harm’s way and they responded to help protect them.”

While they were in the sally port, two officers responded to the call for help, Sgt. Alex Suarez and Deputy John Simpson. Suarez immediately arrested Conley, while Simpson ran to the sally port to arrest Jones.

“Both inmates continued to resist apprehension and both officers were assaulted in their attempt to secure the inmates,” the post reads. “In addition, Sgt. Elmo Robinson arrived and assisted in the apprehension of the inmates. Tools of less than lethal force, including Tasers and pepper spray, were administered by the deputies in their effort to secure the fleeing inmates. Both inmates were secured and returned to cells.”

His staff is to be commended for the way they handled the situation, Smith said.

“I am extremely proud of our staff and their actions during this incident,” the sheriff said. “They all practiced appropriate jail protocols for such an incident and the jailer, dispatcher and commissioned officers are to be commended for their actions.”

The jailer and dispatcher received minor injuries, the post states, and emergency medical services evaluated everyone involved. Conley and Jones will be charged with felony charges for escape from a correctional facility, assault on a public servant and aggravated assault on peace officers, Smith said. The Texas Rangers and the Texas Commission on Jail Standards will assist in the investigation of the incident.

All state jail protocols were followed leading up to and during the incident, according to Smith. Inmates are allowed one hour in the recreation area three times a week. Now that the pair have shown they can’t be trusted, they will be escorted by a deputy anytime they leave their cells, he said.

The jail will also review procedures to make sure there isn’t other safety measures the office could put in place for the protection of jailers and inmates alike.

“We certainly don’t ever want this to happen again,” Smith said.

Jones was initially arrested April 30 for warrants out of Bowie and Tarrant counties. He was arrested for failure to comply with sex offender registry requirements, burglary of a vehicle and unauthorized use of a vehicle, Smith said. Conley was originally arrested May 8 for evading arrest with a previous conviction and violating probation.

Kim Cox is the city editor for The Paris News. She can be reached at 903-785-6965 or at kim.cox@theparisnews.com.

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