Twenty inmates from the South Facility at Pitchess Detention Center were sent to area hospitals for treatment of injuries suffered in a melee that broke out around 2:30 p.m. Sunday.
In what appeared to be a coordinated effort, more than 200 inmates from several barracks suddenly began throwing rocks and other debris at sheriff’s deputies, then began assaulting each other.
The inmates then barricaded themselves within the barracks using picnic tables and bunks and vandalized the medium-security facility, breaking the windows. They made shanks (inmate-made cutting and stabbing weapons) from the broken glass the broken equipment. Six barracks housing approximately 400 inmates were affected by the incident.
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When the disturbance started, deputies began deploying non-lethal weapons such as pepper balls and sting balls to quell the assaults. Emergency response teams from surrounding Pitchess Detention Center jail facilities responded to assist PDC-South Facility personnel. Sheriff’s Special Enforcement Bureau, Emergency Services Detail, Parks Bureau, Santa Clarita Valley Station, and Aero Bureau also responded as a precautionary measure, and officers from the California Highway Patrol assisted with traffic control. By about 4 p.m., full compliance had been regained and sheriff’s personnel began a methodical search of the facility and the more than 1,100 inmates housed there.
Two inmates were transported to a local hospital, one for shortness of breath and the other for a possible seizure. Ten inmates were later transported to the USC, Los Angeles County Medical Center for treatment of lacerations and bruises, and eight inmates were treated for minor injuries by Sheriff’s Medical Services nurses. The inmate injuries were considered minor to moderate and no inmates were hospitalized. A significant number of the inmates sustained their injuries when they cut themselves trying to make shanks out of broken window glass. No inmates escaped.
Two deputies received minor injuries, one had a minor cut and another had a sprained ankle. Some of the barracks are not being used pending repairs, while the facility has otherwise resumed normal operations. Investigators from Sheriff’s Operation Safe Jails are investigating the reason for this disturbance. Instigators are being identified and moved to maximum security facilities.