COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina officials are blaming the prison riot that killed seven inmates on a turf war between gangs over territory, money and contraband items like cellphones.
Corrections Director Bryan Stirling said Monday that inmates armed with homemade knives fought each other for seven hours. Most of the slain were stabbed or slashed. The remainder appeared to have been beaten, Lee County Coroner Larry Logan said. Seventeen other prisoners were sent to hospitals for treatment.
No prison guards were hurt. Stirling says they followed protocol by backing out and asking for support. He says that once a special SWAT team entered, the inmates gave up peacefully.
Stirling says cellphones helped stir up the trouble. He urged the federal government to change a law and allow state institutions like his to block prisoners’ cell signals.