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Officers' shootings prompt security upgrade at Fresno County jail

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Correctional officers are not certified peace officers, so they're unarmed, with nothing separating them from people walking into the lobby. (KFSN)

A noticeable change has been instituted at the Fresno County jail as it reopened to the public Monday. Armed security is now in place after Saturday's shooting injuring two correctional officers.

Toamalama Scanlan and Juanita Davila are both listed in critical condition, although Action News has learned they've both made some progress in their recoveries.

The jail lobby reopened to the public Monday and we got our first chance to look inside at the scene of the crime. It's a lot safer for the correctional officers in there right now, but a permanent security upgrade is still uncertain.

Small indentations mark the spots -- in the hallway off the main jail lobby and in the doorway to the hallway -- where a correctional lieutenant fired at Thong Vang. Investigators say the man convicted of rape in 1998 and released on parole in 2014 shot two correctional officers working the public area in the lobby, then tried to hide. Deputies eventually caught Vang and booked him, and the district attorney plans to file charges later this week.

"Based on the preliminary reports and the briefings I have received, I am fairly certain that we will be filing some very significant charges," said Lisa Sondergaard Smittcamp.

More than 350 correctional officers supervise the inmates at the jail. Most of them are not certified peace officers, so they're unarmed, with nothing separating them from people walking into the lobby.

For now, Sheriff Margaret Mims has stationed two armed peace officers inside the main jail lobby, but she tells Action News it's undetermined how long they'll be stationed there. And the lobby a short distance to the north is still unprotected, although there are deputies in nearby courtrooms who can quickly respond to threats.

Many other county jails in the Valley look a lot different. Thick glass separates the public from staff at the Kings County jail, for example.

Sheriff Mims says she's considering permanent changes, but for now, the focus is on Scanlan and Davila. The sheriff's office is getting support -- in the form of food cash, or comfort -- from all across the country, including the DA herself.

"We just went there to share some time with them, to let them know we support them, to let them know how much we appreciate the service they provide," said Smittcamp.
The sheriff's office set up a gofundme page to help the injured officers. You can access it at: Ghttps://www.gofundme.com/injuredofficerfund.

Vang is now booked here on charges including attempted murder, and on an immigration hold.

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