Prison is a dangerous place and it makes perfect sense. Think about it, American prisons are full of desperate, criminally-inclined individuals who will do just about anything to be free of their incarceration, including commit more crimes.
This story happened in December of 2018. It involved a career criminal with little to lose, and a brave prison librarian who was ready to do anything to stymie his attempts to circumnavigate the law…
Deserts, despite what most people believe, can get very cold at night, but as the lingering chill in the air dissipated with the rising sun, the inmates at Arizona State Prison Complex-Lewis in Buckeye began getting up and going about their regimented daily routines.
Quiet in the Library
At the same time that the inmates were getting up and getting breakfast, the day shift workers at the prison were going about their business. Librarian Allen Hartzell was busy organizing the library and getting it tidy so that any interested inmates could come in and get what they need. One of those inmates was Timothy Monk.
Maximum security inmate, Timothy Monk, was in the library that day. Monk wasn’t like some of the other inmates that come in and out of the library, doing what they can to further their education or inform themselves on court proceedings. No, based on his current sentence, Monk wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
History of Violence
Monk, a known violent offender who had come to ADC in 1988, was currently serving a 97-year prison sentence for a combination of crimes including armed robbery, sexual assault, and kidnapping. Of course, even those crimes weren’t enough to get one 97 years right off the bat. Prison, it seemed, helped in that regard.
Video Part 1
The video of the incident starts off starts off calmly enough. Monk is walked into the library by a guard, then waits patiently for the door to close. After that, he quickly reaches down into his shoe and removed a homemade shiv from his sock before accosting the librarian and pulling him to the corner of the desk.
In 2006, while Monk was incarcerated at the Tucson prison complex, he found himself convicted for aggravated assault, kidnapping, promoting prison contraband, and sexual assault. It seemed that being in prison was not going to stop Monk from committing crimes. And as will be shown by our video below, there was more to come.
Get Me Out
Monk then proceeded to take the librarian hostage, demanding that the man help him to leave the complex. Considering he was already serving almost a century for his crimes, one would suspect that he would do just about anything to get out of the prison.
Keeping them Safe
Librarian Allen Hartzell was not about to let this man just walk out of prison. Regardless of the imminent danger he now found himself in, he still understood that the cost of helping this man escape would no doubt be taken out on the other members of his community. He had one more trick up his sleeve though.
One Last Shot
Hatzell reached down and pulled out some form of self-defense spray. The pepper spray, despite being pretty darn painful, didn’t seem to do much other than infuriate the already agitated inmate. Rather than act on impulse and kill the librarian, Monk instead dragged him to a corner of the room.
Video Part 2
In this second clip, you can see Hatzell release the self-defense spray into Monk’s face as he’s pulling him further into the room. Meanwhile, prison officials put the facility on lockdown and sent a squad of hostage negotiators and tactical teams to line up outside the library doors. No one knew what Monk might do, mainly because this wasn’t the first time he’d done such a thing.
This was not Monk’s first rodeo when it came to holding prison employees hostage. Indeed, his 2006 incident involved him taking a female corrections officer hostage. That time, he’d brandished a homemade blade of razors and plexiglass and had been equally unsuccessful. It seemed he hadn’t learned his lesson.
The hostage negotiators shouted through the doors, trying their best to calm Monk down to no avail. The tactical teams, meanwhile, were beginning to get antsy. For more than two hours, the hostage negotiations continued to no avail. Meanwhile, Monk began communicating with the prison administrators behind the camera.
“I told you I’d show you how bad I am. Why do I gotta do this,” said Monk, desperation, and anger both detectable in his voice. The camera voice, meanwhile, chided him for his bad decision making: “You shouldn’t. It should have never come to this.”
At the same time, one could see the effects of the librarian’s pepper spray beginning to intensify in Monk’s disposition. The camera voice asked “Sick to your stomach?” to which Monk responded in the affirmative. The voice then added that this feeling was likely from the pepper spray. The demoralization was evident.
Video Part 3
At this point, the effects of the librarian’s pepper spray beginning to intensify. The hostage negotiators and the voice over the camera ask if Monk is sick to his stomach and he responds in the affirmative. The voice then adds that this feeling was likely from the pepper spray. The demoralization in the erstwhile kidnapper is evident.
Tactical crews threw a number of flash-bang charges into the library then burst in soon after. Sickened, blinded, and overwhelmed, Monk’s latest attempt to take a prison hostage came to a swift and violent end. The standoff was over, but the longtime ramifications were going to be felt for a while.
No One Hurt
Thankfully, Allen Hartzell escaped from his encounter with Monk completely unscathed. He was also awarded the department’s Medal of Valor, the Arizona Department of Corrections’ highest honor, for his actions during the standoff. Indeed, it was his quick thinking with the pepper spray that helped weaken his assailant, even slightly.
As for Timothy Monk, his current 97 years in prison is about to be extended. His reprehensible criminal actions are likely to garner him additional time and added restrictions on his access while incarcerated. Hopefully, by now he’ll learn that he’s not really very good at taking hostages and will endeavor to be more well-behaved in future.
Releasing the Footage
The Arizona Department of Corrections released an official statement saying, “Personnel deployed a diversionary device into the library and used less-than-lethal force on the inmate, while our team successfully secured the safety of our employee.” Eventually, they also decided to release the dramatic security footage to the public.
Video Part 4
After trying and failing to escape from prison yet again. After being pepper sprayed, smoke-bombed, and man-handled by a bevy of prison guards, it should be clear that Timothy Monk has learned his lesson. The video of the incident will also dissuade other prisoners from attempting anything similar as well.