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10 Inmates Hurt in 5th Jail Brawl in 2 Weeks

August 17, 1996|JOHN M. GONZALES | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

CASTAIC — Ten inmates suffered minor stab wounds Friday in the fifth brawl in less than two weeks at the Pitchess Jail, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department reported.

The cause of the 7:55 a.m. clash between Latino and African American inmates is under investigation, as are the motives behind the previous four fights, Deputy Richard Dinsmoor said.

About 68 prisoners joined in the latest melee at the jail's North County Correctional Facility. It was quelled by an emergency response team of deputies using "stingball grenades."

The grenades explode with a spray of hard rubber pellets meant to stun combatants without seriously injuring them. They are commonly used at the four separate facilities that make up the Pitchess Detention Center to break up frequent interracial and gang confrontations.

Two brawls Wednesday caused injuries to seven prisoners. The first was between two dozen Latino and Asian inmates, the second erupted between rival Latino gangs, authorities said.

On Monday, 27 prisoners were hurt in a midnight fight involving 70 combatants, and on Aug. 7 one inmate suffered minor stab wounds and seven others received lighter injures in a 50-man fight. Both of those confrontations, also broken up by stingball grenades, were between blacks and Latinos.

No deputies have been injured in the spate of fights. Ten prisoners were injured seriously enough to be transferred to the jail ward of County/USC Medical Center, where all were in satisfactory condition. Other men were treated in the jail's medical ward.

Improvised knives were used in the stabbings, deputies said.

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