One inmate was killed and nearly 50 were injured in a race riot Saturday afternoon at North County Correctional Facility in Castaic that may have been sparked by a feud between rival gang members, authorities said
The melee — which was quelled in about an hour — broke out around 3:20 p.m., and was contained primarily to two dormitory areas at the prison, the population of which is approximately 60 percent Latino and 30 percent black, said Sheriff Lee Baca.
“(This was) a brown/black incident today,” Baca said, adding the incident may have not only been gang-related, but possible retaliation for the stabbing of a Latino inmate by a black inmate last week at Men’s Central Jail in Los Angeles.
Baca said no law enforcement personnel were injured.
He described the riot as chaotic, with “inmates yelling, screaming, fighting and using any instrument” to attack other inmates. “In the end there were no winners, and all losers.”
In what was one of the larger riots the facility has seen, Baca said although nearly 1,900 inmates may have been brawling during the fracas, the violence was primarily contained to a group of about 200 inmates.
“It only takes one inmate to start (a riot),” he said. “By racial loyalty, (inmates) will fight whether they want to or not.”
Some 200 sheriff’s deputies were on hand, in addition to California Highway Patrol officers, quelling the riot with tear gas, pepper ball guns and “flash-bang” grenades.
Seven fire engines and 24 ambulances also responded to the prison.
“Everything is under control,” Baca said at a news conference shortly after 7 p.m. “The staff handled it as well as could be expected.”
The one fatality was a 45-year-old black inmate, who was a registered sex offender.
Authorities were not confident of the cause of death, but Baca said it appeared to be blunt force trauma.
Twenty inmates suffered serious injuries and were transported to hospitals including Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital.
Twenty-six inmates suffered minor injuries, and were either treated at the jail facility or taken to area hospitals.
The majority of injuries, he said, were blunt force-related, caused by inmates hurling bunk beds and other heavy metal items down on the mob from the second floor of the dormitory.
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