A look inside Mass. maximum security prison unit destroyed by rioting inmates
SHIRLEY, Mass. — The Massachusetts Department of Correction released photos and videos Tuesday of the inside of a maximum security prison unit destroyed by rioting inmates Monday evening.
The riot started at the Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center in Shirley, Mass. after two physical altercations began between two different pairs of inmates in the unit, known as P1.
Officials described the inmates as "high ranking members of a Security Threat Group," specifically rivalry gangs.
As correctional officers in the unit tried to secure 46 inmates in their cells, the men resisted, and staff were removed from the unit for their safety.
Then violence erupted.
"Sprinkler heads were broken off, camera systems were destroyed, the computer system in the unit was destroyed, along with extensive damage to much of the remaining parts of the unit," said DOC Commissioner Thomas Turco.
It all happened at the prison where former New England Patriot Aaron Hernandez is serving his life sentence for the 2013 murder of Odin Lloyd. However, officials could not say whether or not he was involved.
Surveillance video released by the DOC Tuesday evening show the mass destruction inside the unit, as inmates made weapons out of items in the unit. They also sprayed fire extinguishers, tore down ceiling tiles and broke cell windows and doors.
The video was partially blurred by officials, citing state privacy laws.
"[They] ripped a computer apart, created knives and shivs out of different parts of of normal items around the tier, and they were getting ready to have the corrections officers come in," said Daniel Bennett from the state's Executive Office of Public Safety and Security.
Heavily-armed State Police and facility staff tried negotiating with the inmates for several hours.
Around 7 p.m., officials were able to regain control of the unit by spraying tear gas in it.
Turco said by the time it was all over, the unit was completely trashed, a "total loss."
According to officials, the prison will remain on lock down while an investigation into the incident is completed.