A fight inside a South Carolina maximum security prison over the weekend left seven inmates dead and at least 17 others injured amidst the overwhelming chaos.
Fighting at the Lee Correctional Institution in Bishopville began around 7:15 p.m. on Sunday evening, according to USA Today. It took until 3 a.m. for authorities to restore order to the facility as the fights raged out of control for hours.
No officers sustained injuries in the widespread fighting, which spread throughout three housing units. According to Lee County Coroner Larry Logan, most of the deaths appear to be from stabbing wounds or beating upon initial inspection. However, autopsies will determine the exact causes of death for all seven inmates who died during the riot.
According to the New York Times, for years lawmakers pledged to make South Carolina’s prisons safer, especially Lee Correctional, but apparently, those pledges haven’t resulted in positive safety changes.
The 25-year-old prison houses around 1,500 male inmates, who are among South Carolina’s most violent criminals. Of late, inmates at this facility resorted to violence multiple times. In fact, three weeks ago, inmates held a guard hostage for 90 minutes after overpowering him and taking control of a portion of one of the dormitories. Ultimately, they released the guard with no injuries. Another violent incident occurred in February when one inmate stabbed another inmate to death.
Local news station KWTX interviewed an inmate who reported that bodies of those who perished in the riot stacked on each other during the fighting and that officers in the prison during the unrest did not try to do anything to stop the fight.
Responding to the riot were Lee County Fire and Rescue, Florence County EMS, Kershaw County EMS, Darlington County EMS, Lexington County EMS and Hartsville Rescue, and a private ambulance service. There is no word on whether this “mass casualty incident” is related in any way to the previous recent unrest at the prison.
The South Carolina Department of Corrections identified the prisoners who died in the riot on Facebook as “Raymond Angelo Scott, Michael Milledge, Damonte Marquez Rivera, Eddie Casey Jay Gaskins, Joshua Svwin Jenkins, Corey Scott, Cornelius Quantral McClary.”