Around 115 inmates at a jail in St. Louis managed to overcome a prison guard and take over a section of the facility early Saturday morning.
According to The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the incident began around 2:30 a.m. Saturday on the fourth floor of the City Justice Center in downtown St. Louis after an inmate and a guard got into a physical altercation. During the scuffle, the officer was jumped by other prisoners and became overwhelmed, allowing the group to gain control of the section.
Jacob Long, spokesman for Mayor Lyda Krewson, said the inmates took the opportunity to set fires, clog toilets, and flood the floor. A group also broke the windows of the building around 6:30 a.m. In addition to tossing debris such as chairs out of the window onto Tucker Boulevard below, many prisoners also held up signs, such as one that read "Ian Gang." Other posters asked for freedom for certain individuals.
By 7:00 a.m., firefighters and other officials were called to contain the scene, and within three hours the situation was back under control and cleanup had commenced. As a result of the incident, 65 inmates were transferred to a medium security prison known as the Workhouse.
The guard who was attacked has been taken to a hospital, according to Jimmie Edwards, the director of the city's Department of Public Safety. He is currently doing well and no other officers or inmates were injured.
Nevertheless, Long still referred to the event as a "very dangerous disturbance."Edwards added that a likely reason for ease of the takeover was due to the faulty locks in the facility. The director said detainees have been able to tamper with the locks and the issue has been an ongoing problem since December.
This is not the first time over the past few months the facility has been hit with riots. Inmates have long claimed that authorities have not been doing enough to ensure their health and safety amid the COVID-19 pandemic and the prison has been the target of two disturbances over the past few months due to this issue. However, officials believe this recent incident does not relate to the novel coronavirus.
"This time, no reason was given," Edwards said, noting there are currently no known cases of COVID-19 among detainees.
Though there are no cases of the coronavirus at the City Justice Center, January has nevertheless been the virus's deadliest month in the United States, with over 80,000 fatalities, according to The Inquisitr.