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Santa Clarita / Antelope Valley : 200 Involved in Fight at Pitchess

November 03, 1994|DOUGLAS ALGER | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

CASTAIC — An argument between two county jail inmates over sleeping arrangements erupted into a racially tainted brawl involving 200 fellow prisoners, the largest such incident in recent weeks at the Peter J. Pitchess Honor Rancho, authorities said Wednesday.

Six inmates suffered minor injuries in the fights in which Latino and African American inmates, some armed with broken broom handles, took sides against each other, according to Los Angeles County Sheriff's Deputy Irma Becerra.

Deputies, none of whom was injured, regained control in six minutes using verbal commands and pepper spray, Becerra said.

The incident began about 10:30 p.m. Tuesday at the minimum security facility when two inmates--one Latino and one black--began arguing over bunk assignments and exchanged punches.

Last month, 140 inmates engaged in a fight that led to 10 stabbings. That was the 52nd such incident this year at the jail, long plagued by racial tension and violence. In June, 800 black and Latino inmates fought each other while 600 took part in a similar brawl in January.

As a result of Tuesday's fights, Becerra said jail officials are considering filing charges against four inmates.

Two may be charged with assault and a third with interfering with a peace officer. A fourth inmate, caught with a broom handle, may be charged with possessing a weapon in jail, Becerra said.

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