Riot leaves 7 dead, 17 seriously wounded
COLUMBIA, S.C. — Prisoners armed with homemade knives rioted for more than seven hours inside a maximum-security facility, leaving seven inmates dead, and bodies were “literally stacked on top of each other,” an inmate said on Monday.
At least 17 prisoners were seriously injured as inmates fought uninterrupted before authorities regained control of Lee Correctional Institution about 3 a.m. Monday, South Carolina prisons spokesman Jeff Taillon said.
Officials didn’t immediately say what sparked the violence at the prison, which houses some of the state’s worst and longest-serving offenders. No prison guards were hurt.
The prisoner who saw the riot exchanged messages with the Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because he is not allowed to have a cellphone and fears retribution from other inmates.
He also didn’t say what started the riot but said most of the inmates at the prison are affiliated with gangs and he saw several attackers taunt a rival gang member who was badly injured.
“I just saw three dead on the sidewalk outside of my unit. One guy is still alive and breathing, but just barely,” the inmate said.
The inmate said that many cell door locks were already broken before the riot and that he and other prisoners roamed around freely. Hours after the violence started, no correctional officers or medical personnel attended to the dead or dying, he said.
“It’s been over two hours, but no COs (corrections officers) have responded to this unit, and no medical personnel have attempted to render any kind of aid,” he wrote. “The COs never even attempted to render aid, nor quell the disturbance. They just sat in the control bubble, called the issue in, then sat on their collective asses.”
Most of the slain inmates were stabbed with homemade knives or slashed, while the remainder appeared to have been beaten, Lee County Coroner Larry Logan said.
The coroner said when he arrived it was a chaotic scene of fighting everywhere.
The maximum-security facility in Bishopville houses about 1,500 inmates.
An overnight riot at the Lee Correctional Institution, in Bishopville, S.C., left seven inmates dead and 17 others wounded.