SC prison riot leaves seven dead

Bodies ‘stacked on top of each other,’ in­mate says

The Commercial Appeal - - Front Page - John Ba­con and Tim Smith USA TO­DAY

BISH­OPVILLE, S.C. – Gangs fight­ing over ter­ri­tory most likely trig­gered seven hours of vi­o­lence that left seven peo­ple dead and 17 in­jured at a max­i­mum­se­cu­rity prison con­tain­ing some of South Carolina’s most dan­ger­ous con­victs, au­thor­i­ties said Mon­day.

Clashes among in­mates at Lee Cor­rec­tional In­sti­tu­tion erupted about 7:15 p.m. Sun­day, state Cor­rec­tions Depart­ment chief Bryan Stir­ling said at a news con­fer­ence. The fight­ing spread to three hous­ing units, but no of­fi­cers were wounded, he said.

Stir­ling de­fended the time it took to put down the dis­tur­bance, say­ing law en­force­ment of­fi­cers had to muster at the hous­ing units one at a time, re­tak­ing con­trol and plac­ing in­mates back in the cells. Such ef­forts rou­tinely can take 90 min­utes for just one dorm, he said.

“We gath­ered as many peo­ple as we could as quickly as we could and went in when we thought it was safe,” Stir­ling said.

An in­mate at the scene told AP that cor­rec­tional of­fi­cers did not at­tempt to halt the in­mate-on-in­mate vi­o­lence as bodies “lit­er­ally stacked on top of each other.” The in­mate, who said most of the in­mates had gang af­fil­i­a­tions, ex­changed mes­sages on con­di­tion of anonymity be­cause he wasn’t sup­posed to have a cell­phone and feared ret­ri­bu­tion from other in­mates.

Stir­ling said teams en­ter­ing the hous­ing units faced no re­sis­tance from the in­mates. He said or­der was com­pletely re­stored by 3 a.m., and that depart­ment’s po­lice ser­vice unit and the South Carolina Law En­force­ment Divi­sion were in­ves­ti­gat­ing the un­rest.

Stir­ling has been press­ing for the tech­ni­cal power and ad­min­is­tra­tive au­thor­ity to block cell­phone sig­nals from the prison. He said cell­phones al­low gang lead­ers to con­tinue crim­i­nal op­er­a­tions while in­car­cer­ated.

The prison, which opened 25 years ago and holds about 1,300 of some of South Carolina’s most vi­o­lent of­fend­ers, is no stranger to vi­o­lence. Three weeks ago, in­mates over­pow­ered a guard, hold­ing him hostage and tak­ing con­trol of part of a dorm for about 90 min­utes.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.