ST. LOUIS – Five days ago, inmates at the St. Louis City Justice Center allegedly beat a guard in his 70s and held him hostage.

In an exclusive interview, one of the men charged in the attack spoke with FOX 2 through his fiancé via Zoom, as the case is still under investigation.

Morgan Bankhead is Anthony Newberry’s fiancé. She also says she is a former correctional officer at the Justice Center. She initially spoke with us Tuesday after she received a call Newberry was involved in an altercation at the city jail.

“He’s just reacting out of retaliation because he feels like his voice is not being heard,” Bankhead said on Aug. 22.

The City of St. Louis recently spent millions of dollars on jail security upgrades. St. Louis Commissioner of Corrections Jennifer Clemons-Abdullah didn’t acknowledge the mysterious death of a 32-year-old inmate a couple days before the hostage situation and repeated claims from a jail oversight board that the jail remains overcrowded and understaffed.

“We did a whole bunch of small things that have helped us,” Clemons-Abdullah said. “If you notice, for the record, it has been over a couple of years since anything has occurred here.”

Bankhead said the conditions inside the Justice Center are inhumane. She has reached out to city leaders with no response.

“I even came down here and talked to public safety director and wrote the mayor to see if she can look into it,” Bankhead said.

We followed up with her again on Sunday via Zoom. During that interview, Newberry called Bankhead from the Jefferson County Detention Center, where he had been transferred. He wanted to share his side of the story.

Six inmates, including Newberry, are facing charges for holding a 73-year-old corrections officer hostage. Paramedics took the guard out on a stretcher two hours after the first call to police came in.

Records indicate Newberry punched the guard, took his keys, and unlocked other detainees’ cells. Newberry is charged with third-degree assault, kidnapping, and damage to jail property.

“I never touched him,” Newberry said on the call. “The only thing I did was got the keys when he fell to the floor. Grabbed the keys; that’s all I did.”

Newberry is also one of two suspects charged in the murder of a 41-year-old woman that happened in south St. Louis in 2021. He maintains his innocence in that case, too.

“I’m being charged for something I didn’t do,” he said. “The guy that’s on my case with me, I don’t even know the guy.”

He went on to say he feels remorse for what happened at the Justice Center last week.

“I apologize for what happened, but in no way I would’ve touch the some old man. I {wouldn’t} harm an elderly man.”

He maintains his stance that he wants to see conditions at the Justice Center improve.

“I wasn’t able to get no visits,” he said. “I wasn’t able to use the phone. I wasn’t able to take a shower.”

We reached out to the St. Louis Public Safety Department regarding Newberry’s treatment.

They sent us this statement on Sunday:

We cannot comment specifically on Anthony Newberry due to an ongoing criminal investigation. Detainees’ charges and behavior dictate their housing assignments. Phone and video calls are consistently available to detainees, including Anthony Newberry, if they choose to take them. They are also provided hygiene packs.

Newberry said that where he is being held now, he is granted an hour to make phone calls and shower, which he claims he wasn’t able to do at the Justice Center. He said he was allowed one call a month and a shower every 10 days.

“That place is corrupt,” he said. “They’re just trying to cover their traps.”