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PENDER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — The death of an inmate in Pender County is under state investigation and an internal review.

The Pender County Sheriff’s Office says at about 6:30 p.m. Thursday, a detention officer making rounds found Zachary Bruns, 18, unresponsive. The sheriff’s office says jail staff immediately started medical care and called for EMS, which took Bruns to the hospital.

Bruns, of Currie, was released from custody Saturday while in the hospital. He died Monday.

Because Bruns was found unresponsive while in custody, Sheriff Carson Smith has asked the SBI and District Attorney Ben David to investigate what happened. The sheriff’s office says an internal investigation is also underway and that preliminary indications are that the detention officers on duty followed state rules and sheriff’s office guidelines.

Bruns was in jail on a probation violation. The NC Department of Corrections website shows Bruns was placed on probation last year after being convicted larceny and alcohol possession/consumption. Bruns also had several pending drug and alcohol-related cases in Pender and New Hanover counties.

Comment on this Story

  • paul Thomson

    I have to agree with what is said in this comment.I have heard the Jail is running on a very short staff. As for it being a do as I say and not what I do kinda place this is so true. I have heard from many people of my staff members who get away with violations that a normal person would be fired for. I feel for this family and pray the truth comes out. i can say That it seems that Sheriff needs to look at the jail administrator and her staff. There is so much that is swept onver the rug. The jail needs to be replaced. Small cells that hold more then the number aloud. Little windows for the officers to look in on the inmates. This is not safe for the inmates or the officers. The jail administrator neeeds to be a law enforcement officer and not just a jailor. There is alot of the things that the public needs to know. I hope this brings it out.

  • SeenItAll

    First off the inmate was of age to be housed as adult. He committed a probation violation and that’s why he was there. He was in a cell by himself due to a injury. He obviously passed the standard mental health screening when he was booked in. Checked on by staff 2 times a hour. That’s where the story needs a good investigator to do the background. For instance the kid had a questionable childhood from what friends say. He used drugs and possible performed questionable deeds to pay for what he needed. On to the Pender County Jail. The jail administrator is not required to be a certified deputy, only a certified jailer. There is probable no one else in the department that could run it any better, but the one that’s there should have been gone long ago. The administrator pieces together the work she does. It’s a do as I say and not as I do kinda place. What little staff is there is either backstabbing or so miserable to have to work in a dump with inmates whom are treated as if they are at summer camp with the jail Sergeant and Captain as their mother hens. The jail should be replaced for the safety of staff and inmates but it’s a long drugged out process cause if the high sheriff can’t get himself a new office out of the deal then who gives two chits about jail conditions. A building that the sheriff and his major only enter per year a number you can count on one hand. But I guarantee they both have new cars to drive each year while some of the deputies we depend on for for help when called on don’t .

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