Unusual Brawl Injures 8 Guards and 7 Inmates in California

Investigators are trying to figure out if the attack was premeditated.

On Wednesday, an unusually extreme brawl broke out in Pelican Bay State Prison, causing officers to open fire, which sent 7 inmates and 8 guards to the hospital.

FILE - In this Aug. 17, 2011 file photo, correctional officers keep watch on inmates in the recreation yard at Pelican Bay State Prison near Crescent City, Calif. Officials say several California prison guards and inmates were taken to hospitals after a fight between two inmates quickly raged out of control Wednesday, May 24, 2017. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)

The Incident

The brawl reportedly started with two inmates fist-fighting, which the guards attempted to control using batons and pepper spray. However, other felons including hundreds of high-security inmates swarmed in. A California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation spokeswoman, Terry Thornton said: “They just ran toward the incident from several areas of the yard and just rushed the officers. They overwhelmed them. Overwhelmed is the word I heard again and again.”

“I can’t recall an incident like this where so many inmates just swarmed our staff like that, I really can’t. Believe it or not, staff assaults of varying degrees happen every day. But oftentimes it’s just someone being resistant.”

The guards allegedly shot nineteen rifle bullets and three hard foam bullets in an attempt to stop massive inmate groups from attacking correctional officers.  Ninety-seven inmates who were believed to have participated, were sent to “disciplinary housing units” following the assault.

The Injuries

All eight of the injured guards were treated and released from the hospitals, with one requiring shoulder surgery. According to Thornton, injuries among the guards included bumps, bruises, contusions and facial injuries.

Of the 7 injured inmates, 5 were wounded from the gunshots. Four are staying at the hospital, one of who was sent to another hospital for more intense care. The other three were sent back to prison after their injuries were successfully treated.

Was It Planned?

Investigators are yet to determine whether the attack was premeditated. Officers reportedly found two makeshift weapons at the scene which were made by inmates.

According to Thornton, however, these weapons were acquired during the fight and it is not yet determined whether or not inmates attacked the officers with them.