Eight staff members have been injured after a riot broke out at the Pelican Bay State Prison in California, correction officials say. Seven inmates were also injured, including five who were shot when officers opened fire.
The incident began at 10:25 a.m. PT on Wednesday when staff responded to a fistfight between two inmates in the general population yard at the prison’s B Facility. Custody staff deployed chemical agents and batons in an effort to stop the fighting.
“As staff continued to try to subdue the two inmates, large groups of inmates from various areas of the yard ran toward the incident,” the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said in a statement. “The officers were overwhelmed as the inmates started attacking them.”
In response, officers from 3 armed posts used lethal force in an attempt to stop the attack, firing at least 22 shots, most of them from Mini-14 rifles. Two inmate-made weapons were recovered but investigators do not believe they were used in the attack.
A total of 15 people were injured in the riot, including 8 staff members and 7 inmates. Six of the staff members were treated and released within hours, but two remain hospitalized for “significant but not life-threatening” injuries. They are expected to be released soon.
The seven injured inmates were transported to outside hospitals, where five of them are being treated for gunshot wounds. There was no immediate word on their conditions.
Inmate movement at the prison has been limited while an investigation is carried out by a Deadly Force Investigations Team and the Office of Correctional Safety. Additionally, 97 inmates have been rehoused in the Administrative Segregation Unit.
Pelican Bay State Prison, which is located in Crescent City in Del Norte County, is California’s only supermax state prison. The 275-acre prison, which opened in 1989, is comprised of 2 maximum-security facilities, 2 security housing unit facilities, a minimum-support facility and a short-term restricted housing unit. It currently houses about 2,000 inmates.
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