The real Delnor hostage story

Trust me, there are a number of columns I really didn’t want to write over the last 11 years and this is gonna one of them. It seems so pointless to cover a tragedy when you can’t change a thing about it. But the truth matters whether we want to acknowledge it or not.

I also want to point out that this piece is the result of a slew of sources who also believe the truth is important. And they matter, too.

What I won’t do is name names (beyond the perp). And though I’m certainly not above it, there won’t be any judgment passing here, either. I will simply present the facts and you can do with them what you will.

Please also allow me to stipulate that serving in any law enforcement capacity is beyond difficult. It’s something this writer couldn’t do on his best day and it’s certainly not for the faint of heart. I watched being a cop take the kind of toll on my brother that still frightens me.

I’m also going to avoid all the general Delnor hostage details because the mainstream press has repeatedly reported them.

Delnor Hostage

So let’s continue

1. Kane County convict transport rules

With all the misinformation out there, it’s important to note that the Kane County Sheriff’s policy has always been one guard per hospitalized inmate. It’s the transport rules that have varied, but the number of officers involved in transporting the inmate isn’t an issue here

2. The guard

This is what really set off this cascading series of events.

The unanimous consensus among my sources was the corrections officer directed to guard the Delnor prisoner May 13 was a very poor choice. His supervisors knew he’d suffered a series of crises of confidence, he almost resigned at one point and his heart was no longer in the job.

While that’s certainly something we’ve all experienced, law enforcement officers aren’t afforded that luxury.

These same sources also said that whoever assigned this officer to the Delnor detail should be fired.

As far as previously firing the actual guard, it’s not that easy. Sheriff’s deputies, court security and corrections officers are all covered by unions and the hiring and firing rules are very specific.

3. The inmate

Tywon Salters was a six-foot-one-inch, 21 year old male who had a reputation for being “crazy.” To wit, he was sent to Delnor after he ate the better part of a plastic prison sandal. Some people postulated this was part of an escape plan, but the more I’ve learned about Salters, the more I’m convinced he had a serious mental illness.

The bottom line is, despite the current one hospital guard policy, Salters is the kind of guy who probably should’ve drawn two of them.

4. How did Salters get the guard’s gun?

The press reported that Salter’s leg iron had been inexplicably removed, or he’d been allowed to go to the bathroom and the officer failed to reattach it, which led to a struggle for the gun. But that’s not the case.

During his daily shower, Salters burst out of the bathroom naked screaming, “I’ve got a shank. Give me your gun or I’ll f*****g kill you. The officer handed over his weapon and fled the room.

There was no struggle.

5. The nurses

This is where the original news stories were wrong – including my real-time Facebook version of event. A good source correctly informed me that one of the nurses had been raped, tortured and shot that day, but I went with the prevailing theory that only Salters had been harmed.

Perhaps it was a case of not wanting to believe that anyone would have to endure three-and-a-half hours of sexual abuse and torture. I won’t make that mistake again.

When it became clear there would be no getaway car, Salters hung up on the officers, screamed, “Someone’s going to have to pay for this and it’s going to be you,” and he started beating the nurse in earnest. That’s when the SWAT team put an end to her ordeal.

She did suffer a straight through wound to her arm as a result.

Make no mistake, all of these women are heroes. But the nurse who convinced Salters to let her use a phone – which she used to warn the rest of the hospital – was beyond heroic. And to lead this deranged man to a downstairs decontamination room where she knew he couldn’t do much damage, knowing she would probably be killed, is beyond incredible.

I wish civilians could get the Medal of Honor.

Of course, no county official can comment on pending litigation, but a slew of them privately said those nurses deserve every penny they will eventually get.

6. Who shot whom?

It was also reported that Salters got one shot off before he died. That’s true, but he missed. That officer who was hit was actually shot in the back by a member of his own SWAT team.

Though Kevlar vests offer front and back protection, our wise officer put on two that day – one facing forward and the other reversed. Though he had to deal with a hellacious bruise, his foresight prevented a major wound or perhaps even saved his life.


Please understand, I have no issue with the brave souls who risked their lives to save that nurse. For the record, if anyone ever has a gun to my head, as long as they do their damndest miss vital organs, I’m OK with a bullet wound. And an errant shot in the middle of a dire situation is something that certainly must be forgiven.

My singular goal here is to report facts that have generally been misreported. And I made damn sure these are the facts.

As far as any judgements go, I’ll keep them to myself.

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