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Lockdown Imposed After Inmate Is Killed in Riot

The melee involved 300 prisoners at the state facility in Fresno County. Details of the shooting by a guard are not released.

October 14, 2003|From Associated Press

COALINGA, Calif. — Inmates at Pleasant Valley State Prison faced lockdown conditions Monday after a riot that left one prisoner dead, authorities said.

The riot started about 6:45 p.m. Sunday in a prison yard, said Lt. Paul Sanchez, and quickly escalated into a melee involving 300 inmates.

One inmate was shot to death by a guard, Sanchez said. The prisoner's name has not been released.

The guard, whose name also has not been released, was placed on paid administrative leave while the Fresno County Sheriff's Department investigates the incident.

"We are still undetermined right now as to the cause of the incident and why it escalated so quickly," Sanchez said. "It's hard to tell when you have that many involved. There are a lot of witnesses and a lot of statements that need to be gathered."

Sanchez said the riot occurred in an overcrowded Level III housing unit for maximum-security prisoners. Sanchez said the prison was designed to hold about 2,500 inmates; it now houses about 4,900.

"We turned our gyms into dormitories," he said. "We often place Level III inmates into areas conformed into dormitories. And any time you place Level III inmates in gyms or dormitories, the anger level increases and the potential for violence is there."

Sanchez said such inmates are supposed to be in cells and under "constant gun coverage."

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