COLUMBIA, S.C. — As the hours dragged on during a riot at a South Carolina prison, bodies piled up on the sidewalk. An inmate inside watched in dismay as several fellow prisoners, two he knew well, lay dead and dying, their bodies leaving trails of blood leading back inside the prison walls.
One bloodied man tried to get up before he “started into that ‘death rattle’ people often hear about, but never experience firsthand,” the inmate told The Associated Press after the attack. Moments later, the dying man was silent, another casualty of the night’s events.
The inmate sent messages to AP as events unfolded overnight Sunday into Monday morning at Lee Correctional Institution. At the end of the seven-hour ordeal, seven inmates lay dead, with 17 others sent to hospitals for treatment.
With many cell door locks broken at Lee, a maximum-security prison, the inmate told AP he freely went outside, where he said he saw bodies “literally stacked on top of each other, like some macabre woodpile.”
State officials Monday blamed the carnage on a turf war between gangs over territory, money and contraband items like cellphones. For seven hours, Corrections Director Bryan Stirling said, inmates armed with handmade knives fought each other, leaving seven dead in the worst U.S. prison riot in a quarter-century. Most of the slain were stabbed or slashed; the remainder appeared to have been beaten, Lee County Coroner Larry Logan said.
The first fight started in a dorm about 7:15 p.m. Sunday and appeared to be contained before suddenly starting in two other dorms. No prison guards were hurt. Stirling said they followed protocol by backing out and asking for support. It took several hours to restore order, but once a special SWAT team entered, the inmates gave up peacefully, he said.
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 said he saw several attackers taunt a rival gang member who was badly injured.
“The man died laying on a sidewalk with some of the people who helped kill him laughing at him and taunting him,” the inmate told AP.
These undated photos provided by the South Carolina Department of Corrections shows, 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 …read more
Source:: The Denver Post – News