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Story highlights

Christopher Wilson had been imprisoned for killing a mother and her infant

Department of Correction spokesman says he was given warning before being shot by two guards

Guards are on paid leave, CNN affiliate reports, as authorities look into the incident

(CNN) —  

A man serving life sentences for two murders was fatally shot Thursday as he tried to escape from a high-security Arkansas prison, authorities said.

Christopher Wilson was killed by two guards just before 1 p.m. at the Varner Unit of the Arkansas Department of Correction, a central Arkansas prison with a Supermax facility.

“Officers gave him a demand to cease his activity, and he failed to comply,” said Solomon Graves, a spokesman for the department. He didn’t disclose the details of the escape attempt, saying there is a state police investigation.

Wilson died at the scene, Graves added. He was housed in the general population of Varner, which can hold as many as 1,724 inmates.

Graves said the guards followed a policy that authorizes the use of deadly force to keep a prisoner from trying to escape a fenced institution.

The guards involved in the shooting are on paid leave, CNN affiliate KATV in Little Rock reported.

Wilson, 41, had been sentenced to life without parole in September 2003 for killing a 26-year-old woman and her 8-month-old baby.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported the woman, Pamela Reed, was found in her driveway by her husband. The infant was inside the home, having been bludgeoned to death. The paper described Wilson as a neighbor.

According to Graves, the last time an Arkansas inmate died during an escape was 2013 at the same prison. An inmate died from injuries sustained when he got stuck on a fence.

The last time a guard was involved in a fatal shooting of an inmate was 1991. A prisoner working in a field tried to kill another inmate when the attacker was killed

CNN’s Dave Alsup contributed to this report.