7 inmates killed, at least 17 others hurt in prison brawl

Henrietta Strickland
April 20, 2018

Those killed from top row from left, Corey Scott, Eddie Casey Gaskins, Raymond Angelo Scott and Damonte Rivera; bottom row from left Michael Milledge, Cornelius McClary and Joshua Jenkins.

The Lee Correctional Institution in Lee County, South Carolina, erupted into chaos Sunday after what the South Carolina Department of Corrections (DOC) called "multiple inmate-on-inmate altercations" in three housing units. The prison was secured around 2:55 a.m. Monday, the corrections department told CBS affiliate WLTX.

State officials defended their response to the prison brawl - one of the deadliest in America's recent history - amid allegations that officers did little to curb the violence early on and did not render aid as quickly as they could have. The maximum-security prison, according to SC corrections authorities, became subject to hours of rioting, rioting that they could not stop.

Six local emergency agencies responded to the riot.

Lee County Fire/Rescue said ambulances from at least seven jurisdictions lined up outside the prison to tend to the wounded.

The prisoner who saw the riot exchanged messages with AP on the condition of anonymity because he is not allowed to have a phone and fears retribution from other inmates.

Some lawmakers said the state must do more to reduce the state's prison population, using sentencing reform to ensure nonviolent offenders are not sent to prison.

The dead men were serving between 10 years and life and their crimes ranged from murder to burglary to trafficking crack cocaine.

"The things that we still don't know is - the attacks seem to be prisoners attacking other prisoners and no staff seem to be involved at this point", Wright told hosts Brian Becker and Walter Smolarek.

No officers responding to the fights were injured, the Department of Corrections tweeted.

Stirling - who served as then-Gov.

From 2001 to 2014, an average of 60 inmates died annually in state prisons across the country, according to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics. When McMaster took over as governor a year ago, he kept Stirling, who had previously worked for him in the state Attorney General's Office.

The prison, which houses violent criminals, has had several incidents in the last several years. Another inmate was killed in February, following another inmate death last July.

"Sunday's deadly incident came three weeks after inmates briefly held an officer hostage and took control of part of a dorm at the Bishopville prison", The State newspaper reports.

The State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) is assisting prison officials with the investigation.

The maximum-security facility in Bishopville houses about 1,500 inmates and there were 44 guards there when the first fight started.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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