Sheriff: Sikeston murder suspect uses stun gun on jail guards, inmates

Sheriff: Sikeston murder suspect uses stun gun on jail guards, inmates
Published: May. 13, 2015 at 3:15 PM CDT|Updated: May. 13, 2015 at 11:08 PM CDT
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BENTON, MO (KFVS) - Scott County Sheriff Rick Walter says three jail officers were assaulted by an inmate this past weekend.

William Henry Applewhite III, 28, of Sikeston has been charged with three counts of first degree assault on corrections officers and armed criminal action. Bond is set at $100,000 cash only.

Walter said prior to the weekend incident, Applewhite was being held in the Scott County Jail for first degree murder, armed criminal action, robbery, first degree assault and tampering with a witness.

According to the sheriff, on Saturday afternoon Applewhite created a disturbance in the pod where he was being housed.

Three corrections officers entered the pod and tried to secure Applewhite in his cell.

Applewhite then charged the officers and got one of them in a choke hold, according to Walter.

We also talked to Jail Warden, Tina Kolwyck, about the incident. She said she's very proud of her officers for reacting so quickly.

"He was out of control," said Kolwyck. "He's still here and is now in a cell alone. Mr. Applewhite has just gotten off of a phone call and then didn't like what was on the TV. We give the groups different times between channels and he wasn't happen about it. Things just escalated from there."

Kolwyck explained three officers were inside the pod with another there for on-the-job training.

It was the female officer who first approached Applewhite when his mood started to shift, according to Kolwyck.

Kolwyck said multiple inmates were in the pod along with Applewhite and the officers. He was told to go on lock down, which means to return to his cell.

Kolwyck said the female officer tried to get him under control and comply with orders to calm down, but she said Applewhite didn't do so.

"He literally pushed the door open and then pushed her," Kolwyck explained as she described how the situation got heated.

In all, three officers and two of those inmates ended up tased and allegedly attacked by Applewhite.

"She was cornered between the table and the door," Kolwyck described of the officer. "Applewhite started flexing his first and taking an aggressive stance so our officer saw an opportunity and slid behind him. However, he pulled around and became real aggressive on her."

From there Kolwyck says things got scary. Applewhite allegedly tried to grab the taser and tased another inmate and then again turned on the officer.

"He took her and drug her from here down to another cell here he put her in a choke hold to the point she said she thought she was going to lose consciousness," said Kolwyck. "He had his hands around her neck."

She said other officers swooped in and Applewhite still fought back, eventually grabbing another officer's taser.

"He tased her in the face. He tased her in the back of the head," said Kolwyck.

Kolwyck said in the process Applewhite tased two other officers and two inmates. The rest of the pod took cover and more help soon arrived.

Officer Scott Mezo was one of the first.

"This is a dangerous job," said Mezo. "This could have been a lot worse. A lot of training goes into what we do and protecting the public and each other is very important to us."

Kolwyck said she has a special staff, stepping up under pressure.

"I'm very proud of them," said Kolwyck. "At any point in time any situation in here can escalate to something dangerous."

Sheriff Walter said the officers were eventually able to exit the pod and Applewhite was later secured.

One of the corrections officers was treated at an area hospital.

Walter said it was obvious that Applewhite intended to create serious injury to the officers by striking them in the face, head and neck areas.

He said it's a perfect example of just how dangerous the job of a corrections officer is.

Applewhite remains in the Scott County Jail. 

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