NBC News anchor Craig Melvin recalls 2003 incident at Lee Correctional Institution

NEW YORK (WIS) - Current NBC News anchor and former WIS News 10 reporter and anchor Craig Melvin is no stranger to dangerous conflict at Lee Correctional Institution.

Melvin recalled the incident nearly 15 years later following a deadly riot where seven inmates were killed and 22 others were injured at the same prison.

During his time in the Midlands, Melvin was at the center of another violent incident at the prison. In October 2003, five inmates took two guards hostage for several hours and would not release them before speaking to a member of the media.

Melvin did go, but admitted in 2003 that he asked himself "Why me?"

"[Former Department of Corrections Director] Jon [Ozmint] called me on my cell phone about 9:00 last night. I was out at the satellite truck. He said the guard had been stabbed once, and they were threatening to stab him again," Melvin said in 2003. "They were beating him, and he was concerned that they weren't going to stop unless they met their demands to talk to a member of the media."

After he was briefed on what to say and how to respond to the inmates, he was allowed inside armed with only a tape recorder. Melvin says the tape begins when he steps into the prison yard and will likely contain discussions between him and a hostage negotiator as well the noise of hollering prisoners, "It's a lot of screaming and shouting for about 20 minutes, and, again, you'll kind of hear the negotiator telling me what to say, what not to say, what to do, what not to do and keeping me calm."

The inmates did release the guards, who they claimed abused them, and were taken into custody. The audio tape Melvin produced was immediately taken by the State Law Enforcement Division as a part of their investigation.

Melvin said he was only in the prison a maximum of 45 minutes.

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