Seven inmates dead, 17 injured in South Carolina prison riot

3 months 1 hour 17 minutes ago Monday, April 16 2018 Apr 16, 2018 Monday, April 16, 2018 12:40:39 PM CDT April 16, 2018 in News
By: The Associated Press

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — 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.

More News

Grid
List
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — Former Gov. Eric Greitens' campaign spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on legal fees in his... More >>
2 hours ago Monday, July 16 2018 Jul 16, 2018 Monday, July 16, 2018 7:03:27 PM CDT July 16, 2018 in News
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill to rename the Columbia post office located on Walnut... More >>
2 hours ago Monday, July 16 2018 Jul 16, 2018 Monday, July 16, 2018 6:51:00 PM CDT July 16, 2018 in News
CALLAWAY COUNTY - Family, friends and law enforcement continue to search Little Dixie Lake Conservation Area for Jerry Kinman. ... More >>
3 hours ago Monday, July 16 2018 Jul 16, 2018 Monday, July 16, 2018 6:00:00 PM CDT July 16, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — Missouri's U.S. senators are standing by the intelligence community's conclusion that the Russians interfered in the... More >>
4 hours ago Monday, July 16 2018 Jul 16, 2018 Monday, July 16, 2018 5:10:30 PM CDT July 16, 2018 in News
KANSAS CITY (AP) — A man who was fatally shot after wounding three Kansas City police officers during a gunfight... More >>
5 hours ago Monday, July 16 2018 Jul 16, 2018 Monday, July 16, 2018 3:30:00 PM CDT July 16, 2018 in News
KANSAS CITY - A group responsible for ballot petition advocating major reform in Jefferson City said they are almost positive... More >>
6 hours ago Monday, July 16 2018 Jul 16, 2018 Monday, July 16, 2018 3:19:00 PM CDT July 16, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - A dialogue that began in October 2017 among the East Campus community could finally have an answer Monday.... More >>
7 hours ago Monday, July 16 2018 Jul 16, 2018 Monday, July 16, 2018 2:10:00 PM CDT July 16, 2018 in News
KANSAS CITY (AP) — Bidders have spent nearly $80,000 for baseball memorabilia a former Kansas City Royals second baseman put... More >>
7 hours ago Monday, July 16 2018 Jul 16, 2018 Monday, July 16, 2018 1:51:00 PM CDT July 16, 2018 in News
(CNN Money) -- Adidas is racing to make its products more sustainable. The global sportswear maker said Monday that... More >>
8 hours ago Monday, July 16 2018 Jul 16, 2018 Monday, July 16, 2018 1:18:32 PM CDT July 16, 2018 in News
(CNN) -- A common drug used to control blood pressure and help prevent heart failure was announced by the US... More >>
8 hours ago Monday, July 16 2018 Jul 16, 2018 Monday, July 16, 2018 1:05:00 PM CDT July 16, 2018 in News
(CNN) -- US President Donald Trump said Monday he holds both the United States and Russia responsible for the breakdown... More >>
10 hours ago Monday, July 16 2018 Jul 16, 2018 Monday, July 16, 2018 11:08:00 AM CDT July 16, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - Work to remove several large pin oaks from Mizzou's Francis Quadrangle began Monday after a recent study showed... More >>
11 hours ago Monday, July 16 2018 Jul 16, 2018 Monday, July 16, 2018 10:17:00 AM CDT July 16, 2018 in News
BEIJING (AP) — China announced it filed a World Trade Organization challenge Monday to President Donald Trump's latest tariff threat,... More >>
11 hours ago Monday, July 16 2018 Jul 16, 2018 Monday, July 16, 2018 9:52:57 AM CDT July 16, 2018 in News
HELSINKI (AP) — President Donald Trump and Russia's Vladimir Putin opened their long-awaited summit Monday with a wink and slouch,... More >>
11 hours ago Monday, July 16 2018 Jul 16, 2018 Monday, July 16, 2018 9:37:00 AM CDT July 16, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - A Jefferson City man died in Iowa Saturday morning during police pursuit. A Fayette County Sheriff's... More >>
13 hours ago Monday, July 16 2018 Jul 16, 2018 Monday, July 16, 2018 8:20:00 AM CDT July 16, 2018 in News
BOONE COUNTY - Boone County deputies investigate a death at North Lakewood Drive and East St. Charles Road. Deputies... More >>
14 hours ago Monday, July 16 2018 Jul 16, 2018 Monday, July 16, 2018 7:15:00 AM CDT July 16, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA- Ragtag Cinema showed the World Cup Final against France and Croatia Sunday on its movie screens free of charge.... More >>
1 day ago Sunday, July 15 2018 Jul 15, 2018 Sunday, July 15, 2018 7:53:00 PM CDT July 15, 2018 in Continuous News
BOONE COUNTY - Two cities in Boone County have higher numbers of traffic stops involving minorities, according to an annual... More >>
1 day ago Sunday, July 15 2018 Jul 15, 2018 Sunday, July 15, 2018 6:56:00 PM CDT July 15, 2018 in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 83°
10pm 83°
11pm 81°
12am 79°
1am 78°