BISHOPVILLE, SC (WBTW) – A riot among inmates at the Lee Correctional Institution in Bishopville resulted in seven inmates killed and 17 more needing medical attention, reports the South Carolina Department of Corrections.
Governor Henry McMaster gave an update on the riot and investigation Monday afternoon from the South Carolina Department of Corrections headquarters in Columbia.
Director of the South Carolina Department of Corrections Bryan Stirling said during the press conference that the riot was a product of inmates fighting over territory and contraband, specifically, cell phones.
Stirling defended the work of the officers and said they acted exactly as they were trained to do considering they are outnumbered by inmates and need to be very cautious, especially in a violent situation.
Governor McMaster noted that the inmates are violent people and when they’re convicted of a crime, they bring that violent attitude with them to prison. The governor went on to say that until the law is changed to get cell phone accessibility blocked, inmates will continue to fight over the contraband.
“It’s not a surprise when we have violent events take place inside prison, any prison in the country,” said Gov. McMaster. “We have rules and regulation. We have protocol. We have training, and there’s an enormous effort made to be sure these kinds of things do not happen or are kept to a minimum.”
Officials with the department of corrections say the fighting began at 7:15 p.m. “involving multiple inmate on inmate altercations in three housing units.”
Just before midnight, police services from the corrections department joined SLED agents to gain control of the “ongoing situation” at the prison in Bishopville. Officials say the institution was secured at 2:55 a.m. Monday morning.
Multiple agencies from neighboring counties were called into help. Lee County Fire reports on Twitter that crews responded to a “mass casualty incident” and were assisted by Florence County EMS, Kershaw County EMS, Darlington County EMS, Lexington County EMS and Hartsville Rescue. Assistance was also received from Med One, a private service.
The department of corrections says all law enforcement officers who responded to the prison are safe and accounted for. Police services from the corrections department and SLED are investigating the deadly fight.
The inmates who were killed during an incident at Lee Correctional Institution have been identified as Raymond Angelo Scott, Michael Milledge, Damonte Marquez Rivera, Eddie Casey Jay Gaskins, Joshua Svwin Jenkins, Corey Scott, Cornelius Quantral McClary.
Corey Scott was serving time for crimes out of Florence County including armed robbery, kidnapping, carjacking and assault and battery. He was transferred to Lee County in November 2017.
Cornelius Quantral McClary was serving time for crimes out of Williamsburg County including assault and battery, burglary, and a weapons conviction. He was transferred to Lee County in October 2017.
Damonte Marquez Rivera was serving time for crimes out of Georgetown County including murder, armed robbery, burglary, and kidnapping. He was transferred to Lee County in November 2017.
Eddie Casey Jay Gaskins was serving time for a domestic violence conviction out of Berkeley County. He was transferred to Lee County three days before the riot.
Joshua Svwin Jenkins was serving time for crimes out of Orangeburg and Berkeley Counties including attempted murder, voluntary manslaughter, and burglary. He was transferred to Lee County in January 2016.
Michael Milledge was serving time for crimes out of Greenville and Marlboro Counties including assault and battery, and drug and gun convictions. He was transferred to Lee County in November 2017.
Raymond Angelo Scott was serving time for crimes out of Sumter County including assault and battery and gun convictions. He was transferred to Lee County in October 2017.
Officials have not commented on the condition of the 17 injured inmates.