Shirley, MA – A veteran Massachusetts corrections officer is fighting for his life after being viciously attacked by a convicted murderer inside the facility’s gymnasium last week, according to his former coworker.
The incident occurred at the Massachusetts Correctional Institution in Shirley (MCI-Shirley) on the afternoon of Aug. 31, the Daily Voice reported.
Massachusetts Department of Correction (DOC) Correction Officer Matthew Tidman, a 10-year veteran of the agency, was working in the medium- and minimum-security facility’s gymnasium when an inmate allegedly attacked him with a 10-pound pull-down bar, according to WHDH.
The suspect allegedly beat the corrections officer with the metal bar, hitting him multiple times and knocking him unconscious.
Former DOC Correction Officer Melissa George said the unidentified suspect is a convicted murderer who was incarcerated at the facility after multiple assaults on Virginia Department of Corrections staff members, the Daily Voice reported.
George said in a Facebook post on Friday that the suspect bashed Correction Officer Tidman in the face with the three-foot metal rod multiple times, breaking his skull and causing his brain to bleed.
“He is in a medical coma fighting for his life while they try to control the brain bleeds and swelling so that they can perform the other surgeries he needs over the months to come,” she wrote. “He most likely has severe brain damage, he may never be the same Tidman we know, he may not even live!”
Correction Officer Tidman was flown to a hospital in critical condition, CBS News reported.
The inmate accused of attacking him has been placed in isolation while the investigation into the incident continues.
A fundraising campaign established to help the veteran corrections officer during his recovery has raised more than $73,800 so far.
“He has 10 years in the prison, walks around every day greeting people with a giant smile on his face,” another former corrections officer who previously worked alongside Correction Officer Tidman told Daily Voice. “Always the first one there if you needed him.”
George accused the DOC of downplaying the attack and questioned why prison facilities have such workout equipment in the first place.
“Why are all the gyms in state prisons still open and being used by inmates with free range equipment that can be used as weapons, after you just saw what happened and can happen again?” she asked in her Facebook post. “Why aren’t you closing the gyms state wide, removing all [mobile] equipment, and replacing it all with stationary machines that can’t be dismantled or used as weapons??”
“Why are inmates with known staff assaults and [murderers] allowed in the gyms with weapons in their hands?” she added. “Why aren’t you updating staff and the public on Officer Tidmans current condition? What are you doing about this?”
The Massachusetts Correction Officers Federated Union (MCOFU) released a statement in the wake of the attack, CBS News reported.
“This incident comes as no surprise, considering the get soft on crime mentality that has percolated throughout the state on almost every level,” the MCOFU said. “This incident warrants a full investigation, and the individual involved in this brutal attack must be prosecuted to the highest extent of the law.”
The DOC declined to comment on the incident, citing legal restrictions, according to the Daily Voice.