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, officials said. An inmate who witnessed the riot 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 20 inmates have been killed by fellow prisoners since the start of 2017. At Lee Correctional, an inmate held a guard hostage for 90 minutes in March and another killed a fellow prisoner in February.
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 and stop the rioting.
The inmate told AP that he knew at least two of 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 told AP.
“How else are you going to die in prison? They don’t have guns,” Logan said by phone as he went to a hospital to finish identifying the dead.
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 …read more
Source:: Deseret News – World News