Two Florida inmates charged with trying to suffocate guard with pillowcase

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In the middle of the night, more than a dozen inmates at a Florida prison jumped out of bed and rushed to the bathroom.

Inside, Deputy Lillian Jimenez was suffocated from behind with a pillowcase by another inmate in what officials said was a plot to escape from the detention center. But “a dire situation turned into the safe rescue of Deputy Jimenez,” according to Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister, when a group of women quickly sprang into action to help the guard.

“While these inmates put our deputy at risk, others did the right thing in coming to his aid, and for that I am grateful to them,” Chronister said in a statement.

Now the two inmates accused of orchestrating the June 7 attack, Bridgette Harvey, 42, and April Colvin, 37, face charges related to the escape. Harvey, the one charged with attempting to suffocate Jimenez, faces additional counts of aggravated assault of a law enforcement officer and smuggling contraband into a detention center – an accusation from an investigator on the stem who said it was made from a chewed comb. She is being held on bonds totaling $72,000, according to online records.

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Hillsborough County Public Defender Julianne M. Holt, who represents the two women, did not immediately respond to a Washington Post request for comment. Records show Harvey has been behind bars since May 31 for drug trafficking and home invasion. Colvin has been detained since May 24 for theft, resisting an officer without violence, and possession of drugs.

According to an arrest report, an inmate told investigators that the two women had spoken about their plans the day before. Colvin was supposed to walk into the bathroom shortly before 1 a.m. and pretend to be in pain. Harvey would then warn the guard to check on Colvin – then, launching a sneak attack to restrain the deputy and take his keys.

So in the early hours of June 7, as Jimenez stood by the bathroom door, Harvey came up behind her — quickly wrapping a twisted pillowcase around the guard’s neck, according to the arrest report. Harvey was also carrying a sharpened comb in his hand, according to the report, but it fell to the ground as she and the deputy struggle.

Another woman crossing the hall noticed the situation and rushed into the bathroom, CCTV broadcasts. Soon more than a dozen others followed her inside. According to the affidavit, they removed the pillowcase from Jimenez’s neck and moved Harvey away from her until other officials arrived.

The morning ended with Harvey and Colvin — along with two unnamed inmates authorities have accused of participating in the attack — being placed in solitary confinement, according to the sheriff’s office. Jimenez was treated for minor neck and throat injuries at a Tampa hospital.

Inmates who sprang into action received an outpouring of praise after the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office released video of the incident.

“Well done to the inmates who jumped in to help! one woman commented on Facebook. “Let your courage and bravery be noticed.”

One of the inmates who intervened was Mary Jean, who also saved another deputy in an attack five months ago, Fox13 reported. Although left with a broken hand after the recent incident, Jean was recognized with a pizza party and Coca-Cola, her attorney, Denitsa Kolev, told the outlet.

“She had no reason to do this, to step in and save a deputy while she’s being detained,” Kolev told Fox13. “It shows that she really is a good person.”

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