Twenty-three inmates involved in a melee at the Peter J. Pitchess Honor Rancho in Castaic Sunday have been transferred to Central Jail in downtown Los Angeles to alleviate tensions that may have led to the violence, the Sheriff’s Department said Monday.
Others involved in the fight, which broke out in a 130-man dormitory in the jail’s maximum-security section, were scattered among other areas of the 5,200-inmate facility, Capt. Vance Kirkpatrick said.
Kirkpatrick said the fight apparently began when one prisoner stabbed another with the metal cylinder from a paint roller.
Misunderstanding Led to Attack
Kirkpatrick, who heads the jail’s maximum-security unit, said the man with the cylinder saw two inmates exchanging money, mistook it for a robbery and attacked one of the prisoners.
The fighting quickly escalated along racial lines and involved as many as 45 of the estimated 130 white, black and Latino inmates kept in a dormitory for prisoners awaiting trial or sentencing, Kirkpatrick said.
“It was hard to say how many inmates were involved because a lot of them were just trying to get out of the way,” Kirkpatrick said.
The 23 inmates transferred downtown Sunday were at first taken to Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center for what Kirkpatrick called “Band-Aid-type repairs.” Two inmates remain hospitalized with puncture wounds, another was released after treatment for a severely cut ear, and the others had “bumps and bruises,” Kirkpatrick said.
No Deputies Injured
No sheriff’s deputies were injured in the fighting, which began at 10:58 a.m. and lasted about 10 minutes, Kirkpatrick said.
Several broom and mop handles used as weapons were taken from the dormitory, along with two “pencil-size” metal rods apparently removed from paint rollers, Kirkpatrick said. The identities of the inmates were being withheld until the incident is investigated and a report is submitted to the district attorney’s office, he said.
Kirkpatrick said an assault charge will probably be filed against the prisoner who instigated the melee. It was the first such inmate disturbance at the institution in eight months to a year, Kirkpatrick said.
The honor rancho houses 5,000 inmates. The county hopes to build another maximum-security building for 2,100 more prisoners. The new building is expected to be completed in 1989.