7 inmates dead, 17 injured in South Carolina prison fighting
Meg Kinnard, The Associated Press
Published Monday, April 16, 2018 9:57AM EDT
Last Updated Monday, April 16, 2018 2:02PM EDT
COLUMBIA, S.C. — Inmates armed with homemade knives fought each other for more than seven hours inside a maximum-security prison, leaving seven of them dead in the worst U.S. prison riot in a quarter-century, officials said. An inmate who witnessed the violence told The Associated Press that bodies were “literally stacked on top of each other.”
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 that 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 AP 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 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 riot was the latest violence in the South Carolina prisons system, where at least 13 other inmates have been killed by fellow prisoners since the start of 2017 and was the most inmates slain in a single riot in the U.S. since nine prisoners and a guard died in 1993 at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility, said Steve Martin, a consultant who helps the federal government monitor prison systems.
The inmate who spoke to AP 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.”
South Carolina prison guards are not armed, so as long as employees aren’t threatened, they typically seal off wings when there is an inmate uprising and wait for a special team of state police to arrive to try to stop the rioting.
The inmate told AP that he knew at least two of the slain men well. He said he saw an inmate trying to get up before he “started into that ‘death rattle’ people often hear about, but never experience firsthand.”
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 slain were serving anywhere from 10 years to life in prison and their crimes ranged from murder to burglary to trafficking crack cocaine. They youngest was 28 years old while the oldest was 44.
The injured inmates required medical attention outside the prison, which is located 40 miles east of Columbia.
The South Carolina Department of Corrections tweeted that the deaths happened in multiple inmate-on-inmate fights in three housing units. It began at around 7:15 p.m. Sunday.
The coroner said when he arrived it was a chaotic scene of fighting everywhere. Logan said the state-run Lee Correctional Institution, like most other South Carolina prisons, is struggling to find enough workers, but he doesn’t believe anything could be done once things got that far out of control.
“If everybody has an uprising, you are always going to be understaffed,” Logan said.
The maximum-security facility in Bishopville houses about 1,500 inmates. Two officers were stabbed there in 2015. More recently, an inmate held a guard hostage for 90 minutes in March and another killed a fellow prisoner in February.
The deaths at Lee are the most in any South Carolina prison in recent years. Four inmates were killed last year by a pair of prisoners at Kirkland Correctional Institution.
The riot was the latest violence in a system where 12 inmates were killed by other prisoners last year and 250 prisoners were assaulted so severely in 2016 and 2017 they had to be treated in outside hospitals, according to public records obtained by The Post and Courier of Charleston.
The 250 inmates taken to the hospital after assaults the past two years were nearly double the rate from the two years before, the newspaper reported.
Gov. Henry McMaster, meanwhile, expressed support for state prisons chief Bryan Stirling.
McMaster spokesman Brian Symmes said the governor has “complete confidence” in Stirling’s ability to lead the state Department of Corrections.
Jeffrey Collins contributed to this report.
#canadiannews #worldnews #headlinenews and stories from around the world
USA Today News Headlines
- 4 dead, others wounded in shooting at Tennessee Waffle House
- Trump adviser dodges question about the president's 'drunk/drugged up loser' tweet
- 10 hot vehicles most likely to increase in value, 'terrifying the neighbors'
- World's oldest person, last survivor of 19th century, dies in Japan at 117
- Mike Myers, other stars react to Verne Troyer's death
- President Trump was not at Barbara Bush's funeral - here's why
- Fighter Ricky Simon wins by TKO after final bell at UFC Fight Night 128
- What does it take to become a 401(k) millionaire?
- 5 new books you won't want to miss this week, including Joanna Gaines' cookbook
- Islamic State suicide bomber kills 57 in Afghan capital
- Anti-fascists protest neo-Nazi rally in Georgia, leading to 10 arrests but no injuries
- Car subscription services offer simple, flexible alternative to buying or leasing a car
- White Sox pitcher Danny Farquhar in critical condition after brain hemorrhage in dugout
- Nick Saban overheard criticizing Jalen Hurts' decision to run, not pass, in spring game
- The funeral of Barbara Bush
- Mitt Romney must compete in Utah primary for U.S. Senate seat
- Keegan-Michael Key leads Penn State out of tunnel in hilarious impression of James Franklin
- Tech firms like Google, Amazon push power companies toward solar and wind, a blow to coal
- Norwegian Bliss, biggest Norwegian Cruise Line ship ever, begins maiden voyage
- On Earth Day, you shouldn't feel guilty about your plastic trash
USA News Headlines
- Southwest gives $5,000 checks to passengers on Flight 1380
- A lot of people wore their oxygen masks wrong during the emergency landing
- Firefighter who pulled victim back on plane: I 'felt a calling to help'
- Pilot: What happened on that Southwest flight
- Former Navy fighter pilot praised for her 'nerves of steel' during emergency
- Democrats file suit alleging Russia, Trump campaign, WikiLeaks conspired to interfere in 2016 campaign
- Getting to work could soon be a lot easier
- Getting fired was the best thing that happened to this billionaire
- How fruit juice got boxed out of the health craze
- New York City streets go car-free for Earth Day
- Administrators arrested in school 'fight club' case
- Explosives stolen from construction site found
- Tennessee man charged with murder, arson
- Good Samaritans save woman from fiery wreck
- Georgia city holds neo-Nazi rally
- DNR police urging boaters to be safe
- Murder conviction of Hiawatha Robinson upheld
- Threatening letters target school superintendent
- Baby boutique truck helps homeless kids
- Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson responds to student's promposal
ABC NEWS Headlines
- Naked gunman on the run after killing 4 people at a Waffle House near Nashville
- Man wearing 'MAGA' hat, Trump shirt attacks Hispanic subway rider: Police
- Police shooting of unarmed black man 'massively irresponsible and reckless': Attorney
- Barbara Bush remembered at funeral as 'the first lady of the greatest generation'
- Mother accidentally shoots, kills 2-year-old daughter: Police
- Man who shot 2 deputies in Florida was mystery to neighbors
- 'Mini-Me' actor in 'Austin Powers' movies dead at 49
- Isolated strong thunderstorms, flooding possible across Southeast
- Man killed in random knife attack at California steakhouse
- The Latest: Florida suspect fired gun from within restaurant
- WATCH: 4 dead, several injured in Waffle House shooting
- WATCH: Senate Foreign Relations Committee chair on North Korea, Pompeo nomination and more
- WATCH: Gunman opens fire at Waffle House outside Nashville
- WATCH: Surfer survives shark, bear attacks within months
- WATCH: Student asks most important lady in his life to prom
- WATCH: White Sox player in critical condition after suffering brain aneurysm
- WATCH: Nation says goodbye to first lady Barbara Bush
- WATCH: Thousands pay respect to Barbara Bush at her funeral in Houston
- WATCH: Manhunt in Georgia for convicted killer
- WATCH: Police cam shows officers circling the parking lot where teen died in his car
Mother of boy swept into Grand River says search has ‘finally come to an end’
Codi Wilson, CTV News Toronto Published Sunday, April 22, 2018 8:44AM EDT Last Updated Sunday,Read More
Leafs beat Bruins 4-3 as series hits Game 6
Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press Published Saturday, April 21, 2018 11:12PM EDT BOSTON — TylerRead More