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The Latest: Inmates fought each other over money, territory

By The Associated Press  |  Posted Apr 16th, 2018 @ 12:18pm


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COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — The Latest on prison riots that killed seven inmates in South Carolina (all times local):

2:15 p.m.

South Carolina prisons director says a riot that led to the deaths of seven inmates was a fight over money, territory and contraband.

Corrections Director Bryan Stirling said cellphones helped stir up trouble Sunday night at the Lee Correctional Institute in Bishopville. He says the fights started in one unit and appeared to be contained before suddenly starting in two more units.

Stirling says it took several hours to restore order, but once a special SWAT team entered, the inmates gave up peacefully.

Stirling says there were only two guards in each unit and they followed their training to back out and ask for support if they are outnumbered.

The riot was the deadliest in the United States in the past 25 years.

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1:10 p.m.

Authorities have released the names of the seven inmates killed by fellow prisoners during a riot at a South Carolina maximum-security prison.

The inmates were serving anywhere from 10 years to life in prison. Their crimes ranged from murder to burglary to trafficking crack cocaine.

The inmates are:

— 32-year-old Eddie Gaskins, who was serving 10 years for first-degree criminal domestic violence.

— 33-year-old Joshua Jenkins, who was serving 15 years for voluntary manslaughter.

— 33-year-old Corneilus McClary, who was serving 25 years for first-degree burglary.

— 44-year-old Michael Milledge, who was serving 25 years for trafficking crack cocaine.

— 24-year-old Damonte Rivera, who was serving life without parole for murder.

— 36-year-old Corey Scott, who was serving 22 years for kidnapping and armed robbery.

— 28-year-old Raymond Scott, who was serving 20 years for assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature.

Lee County Coroner Larry Logan says all the inmates were stabbed, slashed or beaten.

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11:20 a.m.

An inmate who witnessed a riot inside a South Carolina prison says he saw bodies stacking up on each other and correctional officers didn't do anything to stop the violence or check on the injured.

A spokesman for the state's prisons says seven inmates were killed and at least 17 others were seriously injured as inmates fought uninterrupted for more than seven hours. Officials didn't immediately say what sparked the violence. No prison guards were hurt.

The prisoner who saw the riot exchanged messages with AP on the condition of anonymity because he is not allowed to have a cellphone and fears retribution from other inmates.

He says most of the inmates are affiliated with gangs and several attackers taunted a rival gang member who was hurt.

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9:30 a.m.

South Carolina's governor is expressing support for his state prisons chief following riots at a maximum-security prison that killed seven inmates.

Gov. Henry McMaster's spokesman Brian Symmes tells The Associated Press on Monday that the governor has "complete confidence" in director Bryan Stirling's ability to lead the South Carolina Department of Corrections.

Stirling was appointed by then-Gov. Nikki Haley in 2013 to lead the state prison agency. When McMaster took over as governor last year, he kept Stirling, who had previously worked for him in the state Attorney General's Office.

Seven inmates died during hours of rioting that began Sunday evening. Officials say most of them were stabbed or slashed; No officers were wounded, and the names of the dead haven't been released.

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8:45 a.m.

A coroner says it appears many of the seven inmates who were killed during hours of rioting at a maximum security South Carolina prison died of stabbing and slashing wounds.

Lee County Coroner Larry Logan told The Associated Press that he arrived to a chaotic scene of fights everywhere at Lee Correctional Institution.

Logan says it appears most of the seven were killed by stabbing or slashing. He says others may have been beaten, but autopsies will be needed to confirm what caused their deaths.

Logan said he just finished identifying all the dead Monday and is working to notify relatives. Names have not been released.

Authorities say it took eight hours to quell the riots and secure the prison. No employees were hurt.

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7:00 a.m.

A South Carolina prisons spokesman says seven inmates are dead and 17 others required outside medical attention after hours of fighting inside a maximum security prison.

Prisons spokesman Jeff Taillon announced the grim outcome after State Law Enforcement Division agents helped secure Lee Correctional Institution around 3 a.m. Monday.

Taillon said no officers were wounded after multiple inmate fights broke out at 7:15 p.m. Sunday.

Lee County Fire/Rescue said ambulances from at least seven jurisdictions lined up outside the prison to tend to the wounded. The local coroner's office also responded.

The maximum-security facility in Bishopville houses about 1,500 inmates, some of South Carolina's most violent and longest-serving offenders. Two officers were stabbed in a 2015 fight. One inmate killed another in February.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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