Seven inmates were killed during fights that lasted more than seven hours at a South Carolina prison Sunday night and into Monday morning, reports The State in Columbia, S.C. At least six emergency agencies responded to a “mass casualty incident” at Lee Correctional Institution that resulted in the seven inmate deaths and 17 other inmates requiring medical attention, the S.C. Department of Corrections announced. Though most of the autopsies have yet to be performed, it appears that many of the prisoners died from stabbing or slashing wounds from “shanks,” Lee County Coroner Larry Logan said.
The corrections department said an incident involving “multiple inmate on inmate altercations” in three housing units at the prison began around 7:15 p.m. Sunday. The prison was secure just before 3 a.m. The maximum-security facility that houses about 1,600 inmates in Bishopville, about 55 miles from Columbia, is home to some of South Carolina’s most violent, longest-serving offenders. Sunday’s fatal fights came three weeks after inmates briefly held an officer hostage and took control of part of a dorm at the prison. In recent years, there have been several large insurrections, including one in which an inmate overpowered a guard and used his keys to free others from their cells. The seven deaths at Lee Correctional are the most in any S.C. prison in recent history. Four inmates were killed last year by fellow prisoners at the state’s Kirkland Correctional Institution in Columbia.