BLYTHE, Calif. (AP) — Eight corrections officers and an incarcerated man were injured during a riot involving about 200 inmates in the recreation yard of a Southern California prison, authorities said Thursday.
The violence broke out around 10 a.m. Wednesday as officers escorted an inmate through the yard as part of a contraband investigation at Ironwood State Prison in Blythe, according to the California Department of Corrections and rehabilitation.
The inmate head-butted a staff member and, as he was subdued, “around 200 people incarcerated in the courtyard rushed towards the officers, attacking them with fists and stones,” it said. the department in a press release.
After deploying a rifle-based warning round, officers used “chemical agents and non-lethal impact rounds” to control the melee, the release said.
Eight staff members and one incarcerated person were treated at an outside hospital and then returned to the prison, officials said. The extent of their injuries was not available.
So far, 30 incarcerated people have been identified as being directly involved in the riot, and the investigation is ongoing.
Movement was restricted in courtyards and day rooms at all state prisons for 24 hours as authorities conducted a routine threat assessment.
Ironwood, a minimum-medium security facility located in the desert east of Los Angeles, opened in 1994 and houses about 2,500 male inmates.
Inmates across California are confined to their cells after a major riot involving about 200 incarcerated people left eight staff members and one prisoner seriously injured, authorities said.
The Jan. 31 riot at Ironwood State Prison in the Riverside County town of Blythe began when about 200 prisoners rushed toward corrections officers, attacking them with punches and of stones. During the scuffle, officers said they fired a “warning shot” and deployed tear gas and “non-lethal impact bullets” on the inmates. Eight prison staff and one incarcerated person were hospitalized with injuries and later released.
The incident prompted a statewide threat assessment, meaning prisoners across the state are confined to their cells, authorities said. The threat assessment is only supposed to last 24 hours, according to a statement from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
The riot began around 10 a.m. when an incarcerated man head-butted a corrections officer who had arrested him as part of a contraband investigation. The headbutt – which occurred as staff escorted the man through a prison yard – prompted 200 inmates to attack the officers.
Authorities say they have identified 30 suspects and are still investigating the incident. The State Inspector General’s Office was also notified.
The past few months have been a particularly violent time for California prisons, including a recent sexual assault against a staff member at the Sierra Conservation Center in Jamestown and a number of homicides across the state. Many of the killings have been attributed to problems within the Mexican Mafia prison gang and its affiliates following the July 2023 fatal shooting of a member named Michael “Mosca” Torres, who was at the prison of California, in Sacramento, awaiting trial in a lawsuit. federal racketeering case.