SAN FRANCISCO — State prison officials Thursday cited attacks on two Folsom Prison guards this week as examples of increasingly sophisticated inmate gang activity at the violence-torn prison.
The attempted shooting of an off-duty Folsom guard in West Sacramento on Wednesday was the fifth attempt statewide within the last five years to attack a guard off prison grounds, according to Bob Gore, state Corrections Department spokesman. It was the first, however, in which a guard was actually injured, he said.
That incident occurred only a day after another guard was stabbed at the prison by a member of the Aryan Brotherhood, the prison gang also suspected to be behind Wednesday's shooting. Gore described the Aryan Brotherhood as one of the most violent prison gangs.
Both attacks are believed to be part of the gang's reprisal for the shooting and wounding of Aryan Brotherhood members by Folsom and Tehachapi state prison guards within the last month, Gore said. In one of the incidents a guard fired shots to stop a fight between two cellmates.
The attempted shooting of off-duty guard David Pitts occurred as he was driving alone on a West Sacramento street, according to Lt. Penny Welch, spokeswoman for West Sacramento police.
His two attackers had apparently been following him without his knowledge, she said. After he pulled off a nearby freeway, the other vehicle pulled alongside and one blast from a shotgun was fired.
Pitts returned fire and may have shattered the rear window of the fleeing vehicle, Welch said. Pitts escaped with minor injuries, primarily facial cuts from flying glass, Welch said. He was not hospitalized.
"The way this was carried out points to a pattern of increasing sophistication that we have seen over the last four or five years," Gore said of the attack.
Folsom Prison is about 30 miles east of Sacramento.
Tuesday night's stabbing of Officer Carl Kropp, 24, took place inside the security unit that houses the "most dangerous and predatory prisoners in California," said Folsom spokesman Lt. Mike Yarborough. Kropp was hospitalized for two days with a neck wound.
According to Gore, most of the prison's 40 to 50 Aryan Brotherhood gang members are kept in the security housing unit because they are among the most violent prisoners.
Folsom Prison has had 123 stabbings since January. Tuesday's was the first involving a guard.
With 200 to 300 members in the state's 14 prisons, the Aryan Brotherhood is the smallest of five prison gangs that have formed since the 1960s, according to Gore. The largest, the Crips, has 2,500 members among the state's 64,600 inmates and is connected with a Los Angeles street gang by the same name. The Black Guerrilla Family is the second largest with about 500 members, followed by Nuestra Familia and the Mexican Mafia, each with 400 or so adherents, Gore said.