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California officers critically wounded after convicted child rapist opens fire inside jail.

edited 4 Sep 2016 in Thin Blue Line

Two officers were critically wounded when a convicted child rapist opened fire inside a California jail, authorities said.

Fresno County Sheriff's Correctional Officer Toamalama Scanlan was listed in critical condition, and Juanita Davila is listed in critical but stable condition after being shot in the head and neck areas, the sheriff's office said in a statement.

The shooting happened Saturday inside the Fresno County Jail.

Thong Vang, 37, said he was visiting somebody and tried to cut to the front of the visitation line, but when he was told to wait, he "began to show signs of bizarre behavior by pacing back and forth," authorities said.

Scanlan and Davila reportedly told Vang to take a seat — but instead he pulled a gun out of his clothing and shot the veteran officers, authorities said.

A lieutenant and Vang exchanged gunfire, but neither was hit.

Officers also used a stun gun on the suspect.

Vang ran to an unlocked door that led to a jail records area, staying in a hallway — but as officers converged on Vang, he dropped his weapon, authorities said.

"Vang conveyed to officers he was giving up and wanted to be arrested," the sheriff's office said.

The injured officers — who both have at least 10 years of experience — were dragged out of the lobby as Vang was held at gunpoint.

The shooting investigation is ongoing.

Sheriff-Coroner Margaret Mims, speaking to reporters, said she was proud of how the officers responded amid Saturday's bloodshed.

"It's underrated about the danger that our correctional officers face," Mims said. "I don't think it crosses the public's mind very often."

Vang served 16 years in prison after pleading guilty in 1998 to the gang-rape of three young girls. The runaways had been looking for a lift home, but were instead taken to a motel party — where they were repeatedly beaten and raped, authorities have said.

Vang was released from prison in 2014. Prior to Saturday, he had complied with all of the requirements of his parole. Now he faces charges of attempted murder, being a felone with a handgun and bringing drugs into a jail.

"This guy's a prison inmate, he's a convict, he's a parolee. And maybe [prison is] where he belongs for the rest of his life," Mims said.

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