Brawl erupts, inmate found dead at Vacaville prison

An inmate was found dead at a California prison hours after dozens of inmates at same facility brawled

A 24-year-old inmate was found dead Monday at California State Prison, Solano, hours after dozens of inmates at the same facility rioted in the yard, authorities said.

Nicholas Rodriguez's dead body was found about 9:30 p.m. in a compact space in his housing unit, corrections officials said.

About five hours earlier, officials at the prison -- which was designed to hold 2,600 inmates but now houses 3,800 -- realized Rodriguez was missing during the nightly count, prison spokeswoman Lt. Marlaina Dernoncourt said.

Investigators believe Rodriguez was killed, Dernoncourt said. He was from Alameda County and was serving an eight-year sentence after being convicted of second-degree robbery.

Shortly after 7 a.m. in one of the medium-security prison's yards, 58 inmates began fighting. An inmate-made weapon was later recovered at the scene, Dernoncourt said.

Guards deployed “less-than-lethal force” along with pepper spray to bring the brawl under control, officials said. Three inmates suffered non-life-threatening injuries, and one guard was wounded after being struck by inmates during the fight.  

The rioting was brought to an end in half an hour, and the inmates involved were relocated to a secure housing unit within the prison, Dernoncourt said.

Rodriguez was not involved in the fight, but the possible connection between the two incidents remains under investigation, Dernoncourt said.

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4:22 p.m.: This story was updated to include the name of the deceased inmate.

This story was originally published at 4:07 p.m.