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Texas corrections officer killed in inmate attack

NEW BOSTON, Texas (AP) — A corrections officer who was escorting an inmate to his cell was beaten to death Wednesday at a far northeast Texas prison, Department of Criminal Justice officials said.

The officer was escorting the inmate from a dayroom to his cell at the Telford Unit when he was attacked with an object, prison agency spokesman Jason Clark said. Officials did not immediately identify the weapon.

“It’s still under investigation,” he said.

The officer, whose name was not disclosed immediately because relatives had not yet been notified, and was taken to a hospital in Texarkana, about 20 miles east of the prison, where he died.

The inmate involved was identified as Billy Joel Tracy, 37.

Prison records show he has at least seven convictions dating back to 1995 and is serving a life sentence for robbery and aggravated assault from Rockwall County, a suburban county east of Dallas. He has other convictions from Tarrant and Potter counties, including possession of a deadly weapon while in prison.

It’s the first slaying of a Texas corrections officer since 2007, when 59-year-old Susan Canfield suffered fatal head injuries during the chaos and gunfire as two inmates broke away from a work detail outside a Huntsville-area prison. Both inmates were recaptured.

The Telford Unit in Bowie County can hold nearly 2,900 inmates.

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