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2 prison staff suspended after killer’s escape

– Two employees of a western Michigan prison where a convicted killer escaped – and was later caught in northern Indiana – have been suspended, officials said Friday.

The Corrections Department declined to release the names of the employees but said one is a shift commander. The agency also did not provide details on the suspensions, but spokesman Russ Marlan confirmed they were related to investigation of how Michael Elliot got away from the Ionia Correctional Facility.

“Our employees are required to follow procedures, policies, work rules,” he said.

Elliot broke through two fences during an escape Sunday night that took an hour. Surveillance video shows the escape, but no one apparently was watching it in the control center.

“You can clearly see him leaving his housing unit, going to an area that prisoners are not allowed to be in, go down to the fence line and then spend the better part of an hour going through two perimeter fences,” Marlan said.

The fences are equipped with motion sensors and carry electric current to shock anyone who touches them. But Marlan said Elliot used his hands to loosen and pull back portions that don’t carry an electric charge.

Motion sensors should have triggered an alarm and a flashing light in the control center, he said.

“They were properly functioning sensors, but yet they didn’t go off, or he obviously wasn’t detected,” Marlan said.

Elliot was wearing a white kitchen uniform that may have helped him blend with snow.

The department expects to wrap up its investigation next week, while Attorney General Bill Schuette conducts a separate review.

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