Packed crowd gives Lt. Steven Floyd a final farewell
More than 1,000 people gave a final farewell Saturday to Lt. Steven Floyd Sr., a correctional officer killed during a hostage situation at Vaughn Correctional Center near Smyrna earlier this month.
Those who attended said Floyd was eulogized in a packed gymnasium at the school with hundreds paying respects outside the service. Later, a procession of dozens of vehicles was saluted by first responders who gathered on Del. 1 as Floyd was taken to Barratt's Chapel Cemetery, where he was buried.
"It was a moving expression of sympathy for the family and at the same time, an impressive showing of solidarity from those in the law enforcement community," said State Sen. Brian Bushweller, D-Dover.
Floyd, 47, was a 16-year Department of Corrections veteran. He is survived by his wife, Saundra, as well as two children.
Law enforcement officials from throughout the United States and Canada attended the services. Reporters were asked not to attend.
"What an absolutely amazing send off for (Lt.) Steven Floyd. I know he would of been so proud of today," wrote a Milford resident identified as David Halton M III on Facebook after sharing a video from the service. "The support (Delaware corrections workers) received is beyond just a simple 'thank you.'"
More than 18 hours after inmates at Vaughn took control of hostages in one of the prison's buildings on Feb. 2, police used a backhoe to break into the building and found Floyd unresponsive. He was the only casualty from the tense standoff that has shaken the state.
Floyd is believed to be the first Delaware correctional officer to be killed in the line of duty since the Delaware Department of Corrections took control of three county jails in the 1950s.
State officials posthumously promoted Floyd from sergeant to lieutenant, effective Feb. 1. A Medal of Valor was presented to his 28-year-old son, Steven Floyd Jr., at a graduation ceremony for a new class of correctional officer cadets.
Floyd spent his entire career at Vaughn Correctional and was promoted to sergeant in 2002, according to the Correction Department. He received the facility's Warden Award for Outstanding Performance in 2016 and was recognized for not missing a single day of work in 2004 and 2005.
In the days since the prison standoff, Floyd has been described as a hero. Geoff Klopp, president of the Correctional Officers Association of Delaware union, has said Floyd warned his fellow guards as the takeover began.
"When the lieutenants came into the building, that's when (Lt.) Steven Floyd Sr. then told the lieutenants that it was a trap and to get out of the building," Klopp said the day after the standoff ended. "(Lt.) Steven Floyd Sr. saved lives in an emergency situation yesterday in [Building C] at James T. Vaughn Correctional Center."
The correctional officer's death was determined to be a homicide by trauma, state police said following the standoff. But mystery remains about Floyd's death and what caused the prison standoff. State Police have said the criminal investigation is ongoing.
Groups centered on prison reform have called for a federal investigation into the riot, which inmates said stemmed from conditions in the jail, in phone calls to The News Journal during the standoff. Last week, Gov. John Carney said the state would initiate an independent review of the incident. He's expected to announce more information about that review early next week.
Bushweller, a member of the State Senate's Public Safety Committee, said his mind was on the well-being of Floyd's family Saturday and he's confident the investigation will be exhaustive.
"I'm very comfortable that Governor Carney has every intention of conducting an independent and comprehensive inquiry here as to what happened so we can all concentrate on taking the steps necessary to ensure this doesn't happen again," Bushweller said.