A riot spurred over money, territory and contraband at one of South Carolina’s most dangerous prisons left seven inmates dead and 17 others injured, a South Carolina prisons director said Monday.
Lee Correctional Institution in Bisthopville, 55 miles east of Columbia, was secured at around 2:55 a.m., nearly eight hours after multiple fights broke out in three housing units Sunday night, prison spokesman Jeff Taillon said. The incident started around 7:15 p.m., he said.
Corrections Director Bryan Stirling said Monday afternoon the fights began in one unit partially about cellphones. That fight appeared to be contained until more fights broke out in two other units. Stirling said a special SWAT team arrived at the building and the inmates gave up peacefully.
The riot was the deadliest in the United States in the past 25 years.
All prison staff and responding law enforcement officers were reported safe after the incident, the South Carolina Department of Corrections wrote in a tweet. The department added the State Law Enforcement Division was assisting prison officials in its investigation.
Emergency services from several South Carolina counties responded to the “mass casualty incident,” Lee County Fire wrote in a tweet.
Lee County Coroner Larry Logan told The Associated Press that the seven inmates who were killed during the riot died of stabbing and slashing wounds. Logan said he arrived at a chaotic scene.
“How else are you going to die in prison? They don’t have guns,” he said.