HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) – An inmate was charged on Wednesday with criminal attempt to commit murder after he stabbed two correctional officers with a makeshift weapon at Garner Correctional Institution in Newtown last month, according to Connecticut State Police.

Officials with the Connecticut Department of Correction said Joe Baltas, 35, of Meriden, was being escorted out of his cell on Aug. 22. when he stabbed an officer in the neck with a shank. Police said the makeshift weapon consisted of a filed-down toothbrush.

The injured officer immediately communicated he was actively being assaulted, and additional officers responded to assist.

Baltas assaulted staff members as they attempted to secure him. He then backed into his assigned cell before staff could gain control of him. After staff secured him, it was learned a second officer was stabbed during the struggle.

The correctional officers were both transported to Danbury Hospital for treatment of their injuries.

Investigators said that Baltas had been scheduled for out-of-cell time at approximately 8:25 a.m.

The attack was motivated by perceived differences between the correctional facilities he had been housed in. He alleged that Garner Correctional Institution enforced stricter limitations on the amount and nature of personal property permitted in an inmate’s cell than MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution.

Baltas then communicated threats he would “do the same thing at Walker,” and to other correctional officers at Garner Correctional Institution.

He was moved to MacDougall-Walker Correctional Institution in Suffield following the violent attack.

Connecticut State Police applied for an arrest warrant for Baltas which was approved on Sept. 20 by Danbury Superior Court.

On Wednesday, state troopers served Baltas the arrest warrant and subsequently charged him with the following offenses:

  • First-degree criminal attempt to assault an employee of the Department of Correction
  • First-degree assault of an employee of the Department of Correction
  • Possession of a weapon or dangerous Instrument in a correctional Institution
  • Criminal attempt to commit murder with special circumstances
  • Second-degree threatening
  • Two counts of first-degree reckless endangerment

Police said Baltas refused to provide fingerprints or be photographed during processing and was additionally charged with failure to comply with fingerprint requirements.

Balas was held at MacDougall Walker Correctional Institution on a $1 million bond and was scheduled for arraignment on Thursday at Danbury Superior Court.