Guards killed two federal inmates in Florence, CO., Sunday after verbal orders and warning shots failed to quell a racially motivated brawl involving up to 200 prisoners, reports the Rocky Mountain News. Prison guards emptied their weapons from three watchtowers in efforts to stop the fight, said state Rep. Buffie McFadyen. She said guards fired from 300 to 400 rounds. The fight on the recreational yard of the U.S. Penitentiary apparently started when white supremacists began using racial slurs toward black inmates. U.S. Attorney Troy Eid said authorities believe the white supremacists were marking Adolf Hitler’s birthday.
The inmates were armed with various weapons, including pieces of metal, wood, plastic and rocks. Besides ther two fatalities, five others were injured and taken to local hospitals. U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar (D-CO), said recent violence at the prison is due largely to “staffing shortages and security shortfalls.” Salazar called for the Government Accountability Office to assess security at the federal prisons at Florence, CO. McFadyen she doesn’t believe Sunday’s fight was related to staffing problems. She said the bigger issue is the type of prisoners being held at the U.S. Penitentiary – men with serious criminal histories, some who are serving life sentences and have nothing to lose if they kill another inmate or guard.