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Prison fight kills two, injures 12

A prison fight at the Granite Reformatory left two inmates dead and 12 injured. Three of them are in critical condition. Prison officials said the fight broke out about 12:30 Monday afternoon and within five minutes, several inmates had been stabbed.

It started out as a fight in the prison yard, then it quickly escalated. "People in a housing unit out in an open yard began fighting," said OHP Trooper Betsy Randolph. "When a group of inmates saw these inmates fighting, they began fighting. They took advantage of the opportunity. You know, these folks live together, 160 of them housed in one housing facility together, so I'm sure they got on each other's nerves."

Trooper Randolph speculated on the cause of the fight.  "They had just come back from lunch, so they were out at an open area getting some exercise," Randolph said. "It's possible that maybe they had a bad experience at lunch, or it was hot, they were close together, I don't know what all the circumstance were."

But they believe heat was a factor. "We do often find that as the temperature rises, or as people are uncomfortable, or irritated, that we find that they are easily provoked for violence," she said.

The prison warden says while he can't be sure, he believes the two weapons found on the scene were homemade. "I know that there were two weapons of unknown source, there was no specifics given to me that the warden said," Randolph said. "Two were collected from the scene."

Two inmates died at the scene, four were treated at the prison. But eight others were in such bad condition they had to be taken to area hospitals. Reports list three of them in critical condition. "One from what I understand is in surgery right now to replace, or repair rather, some sort of damage that was done from either a puncture or a stab wound," she said. "One was having a catscan done."

Trooper Randolph says the public is usually not inclined to feel sorry for inmates when they die, but she says this fight was unacceptable. "These are people somebody cares about. they're somebody's son, somebody's husband, somebody's dad, so--" she said, "they get their just rewards, but not death. Neither of these folks that died today were sentenced to for a death penalty, and unfortunately, that's what they got today in a brawl."

They do have security cameras on the property, so investigators are combing through that footage, trying to see if any of the fight, or a confrontation leading up to it, was caught on tape.

The prison will remain on lockdown until the investigation is complete. The Department of Corrections has five investigators, OHP has sent some investigators from Internal Affairs, and the FBI has also sent someone in.

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