Six months after a shooting at the Fresno County Jail left two correctional officers seriously wounded, the officers continue to recover as major revisions to jail security, including physical and policy changes, have been implemented, Sheriff Margaret Mims said Thursday.
The shooting took place Sept. 2, when armed felon Thong Vang, 37, entered the jail lobby on a Saturday morning, pulled out a handgun and began shooting. Juanita Davila and Toamalama Scanlan were both shot in the head or neck by Vang, a convicted rapist with a long history of criminal behavior.
Davila is recovering at home in Sanger. Scanlan was airlifted to a hospital in Houston last week from the University of California, San Francisco, to continue rehabilitation.
Cousin Jasmine Scanlan said Toamalama’s wife, Tepa, and his oldest daughter, Pauline, plan to alternate visits to Houston to stay with him at TIRR Memorial Hermann rehabilitation hospital.
“He had a good first week,” Jasmine Scanlan said of her cousin’s stay at the hospital. She said Toamalama Scanlan spent the time going through an assessment of cognitive functions and doing physical therapy.
But she described a regimen ahead for the former Fresno State football player that includes a 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. schedule of assessments and physical therapy with breaks spaced in between.
“It’s pretty rigorous,’ she said.
Davila declined to comment for this story. Vang’s trial is pending.
As for security updates, there are three lobbies – the Main, the North and at the South Annex – where Sheriff Mims said armed deputy sheriffs now bolster security previously handled by correctional officers.
Eleven correctional officers received 40 hours in training similar to that undergone by deputies as well as training responding to scenarios like the September shooting. Deputies also staff the two courtrooms at the North Jail. The sheriff said gun lockers have been added to the lobbies throughout the jail, so correctional officers will have firearms available in emergencies.
While the main lobby was previously open 24 hours a day, it is now closed from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., except to attorneys and bail bond agents. A side hallway leading from the lobby is locked. During the shooting, Vang used the hallway to hide from officers. Improved lighting and video cameras also augment updated security measures.
Mims said more changes will continue to better bring the facility into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The sheriff said the changes have been a boost for morale for jail staff hit hard by the attack.
“Getting the special training has certainly been a lot more comforting,” she said.
Those wishing to assist the injured officers can send contributions to the Fresno Deputy Sheriff’s Association. In the memo column, write “Injured officers fund.” Checks can be mailed to: FDSA, 1360 Van Ness Ave., Fresno, CA 93721.
There is also a family fund for Scanlan at gofundme.com/scanfamilyfund