Pipe-wielding inmates wrecked prison, footage shows

Flames leap from a housing unit at a prison in Chino, California, on Saturday night.
Hundreds of inmates using pipes and shanks as weapons trashed a California prison, burning a courtyard, ripping beds to shreds and tearing bathroom sinks from walls, a new video of the weekend riot’s aftermath shows.

Video shot by CNN affiliate KABC gave the first glimpse of the damage to the California Institution for Men in Chino from a riot that authorities said was ignited by racial tensions. “This certainly is probably the worst that we’ve seen, especially adding the extensive damage to the unit that has been burned,” prison spokesman Lt. Mark Hargrove told reporters outside the prison Tuesday. “That has never happened at this facility before.” The riot erupted Saturday night and raged until Sunday morning, injuring 250 inmates. Fifty-five inmates were taken to hospitals with serious injuries, including stab wounds and head trauma. “The prison is still under a state of emergency,” George Kostyrko, a spokesman for the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation told CNN, which means no visitors were allowed and the prison could not take any new inmates. Corrections officials said they transferred about 1,150 inmates to other facilities. “The ones that are there are likely in a lockdown mode until an investigation can determine whether or not they were directly responsible for the riot,” Kostyrko said.

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The decision to lock down the Chino prison and nine others in southern California was still in affect Tuesday. “The lockdowns will remain in affect until all the staff that we deployed to Chino from other areas go back home,” Kostyrko said. The measure was taken to prevent copy-cat violence. Though other races were involved, the altercations at Chino mostly involved Hispanics and African-Americans, Kostyrko said. About 80 officers responded to the scene, but none of the staff was injured. A housing unit was heavily damaged by fire. Prisoners broke windows and pulled down pipes to use as weapons, Kostyrko said. The facility has seven units, each of which houses about 200 inmates. In one of the torched dormitories, burned red prison uniforms were strewed everywhere, the floor was covered with ankle-high ashes, windows were shattered and there was a large hole in the roof. In the mounds of trash that littered the floor of the dorm, a rusty foot-long pipe could be seen. Most of the residential areas were badly damaged and some inmates were being temporarily housed in tents, the spokesman said. Chino is about 35 miles east of Los Angeles.