Corrections officers shoot, kill two inmates during fight at Northern California prison

Photos dated 2020 of Raul Cuen and Anthony Aguilera
Raul Cuen, left, was one of the two inmates fatally shot after corrections officers said the pair attacked Anthony Aguilera, right, with prison-made weapons.
(California Department of Corrections)

Two men were shot and killed by corrections officers during a fight with another inmate Tuesday at a state prison in Northern California, according to prison officials.

The men attacked 68-year-old Anthony Aguilera with prison-made weapons, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said in a statement Wednesday. Frank Nanez, 32, and Raul Cuen, 48, attacked Aguilera around 11 a.m. in a prison yard at the High Desert State Prison near Susanville.

Prison staff ordered the men to stop and then fired a warning shot from a Mini-14 rifle, but said the men ignored them. As the attack continued, the corrections officers shot Nanez and Cuen. Prison staff also used chemical agents to try and end the attack, and the prison-made weapons were recovered.


Medical staff quickly provided aid to the men and performed CPR on Cuen and Nanez, but the men died at the scene. Officials declared Cuen dead at 11:37 a.m. and Nanez at 11:44 a.m. according to officials.

Aguilera was taken to a hospital and is listed in serious condition.

No other inmates or prison staff were injured.

The corrections officers who shot the men are on administrative leave per prison policies, and their names were not released pending further investigation. Prison officials who are investigating the shooting have limited access to the yard where the shooting took place.

The Office of the Inspector General was notified, and the Lassen County Coroner’s Office will determine the men’s cause of death. The prison’s investigative unit and state investigators will review the deadly use of force and forward their findings to the Lassen County District Attorney’s Office.

Cuen was admitted to the prison on Jan. 27, 1994, from Tulare County. He had been sentenced to life without the possibility of parole for first-degree murder, with an enhancement for use of a deadly weapon.

Nanez was admitted to the prison on Feb. 2, 2012, also from Tulare County. He had been sentenced to serve seven years to life without the possibility of parole for first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder, with multiple counts of an intentional discharge of a firearm.

Aguilera was admitted to the prison in March 2007 from Santa Clara County. He was sentenced to life with the possibility of parole for attempted first- and second-degree murder, intentional discharge of a firearm, inflicting great bodily injury and committing a street gang act in the commission of a violent felony.