Police officer killer escaped from the maximum security prison

A man convicted of trying to kill a police officer escaped from the maximum security prison here in September, 1993.

Another man who escaped at the same time was captured a few hours later in the nearby woods.

The incident is the latest problem for the prison, the Ward A. Garner Correctional Institution, which was the site of a disturbance in April, and last week had three incidents in which guards or inmates were injured. Over the weekend, two female prisoners walked away from a minimum-security substance-abuse center.

The incidents have confirmed the fears of residents living near the prison, which opened in November after a failed effort by residents to stop it. "I haven't had too much sleep," said John Stokes, whose Mile Hill Road home abuts the prison. "My wife was informed by the state troopers to lock the doors and windows. I felt like I was in prison with the hot and humid weather while the inmates sat in their air-conditioned cells."

Another neighbor, Sue Seman, said, "I'm not panic-stricken, but I don't like it."

Bob Beres, who also lives near the prison, said he and his wife moved to the small town of 20,000 to "get away from the hustle and bustle of life." After the prison opened, he installed a security system at his house. "It's like being held captive in your own town," he said. Prison Is Near Capacity

The prison sits on 800 acres, a few miles east of Danbury. One of the inmates who escaped, Stanwyck Peppers, 23, of Georgia, was caught a half-mile from the prison 2 1/2 hours after he escaped. He was three years into a five-year sentence for third-degree burglary.

The second prisoner, George Galbreth, 35, of New Haven, remains at large. He was sentenced last year to 28 years for attempted murder of a police officer and first-degree robbery.

William Flower, a spokesman for the State Department of Corrections, said the two men escaped after climbing a 25-foot wall and cutting their way through a horizontal chain-link fence.

"The kind of anxiety and stress this episode puts on a community is frustrating and unwarranted," said Zita McMahon, the town's First Selectman.

She and other residents are upset because the state had originally planned a minimum-security prison.

The 408-cell prison has 678 prisoners, close to its capacity of 702 prisoners, Mr. Flower said.

He defended the prison, citing statistics on violent confrontations. "Garner is not better than most, but it's not worse, either," he said.

Prison officials are meeting with residents of the neighborhood this afternoon to discuss procedures for handling escapes.

Based on the NYTimes article