A riot at Richland County's jail injured two guards Friday morning, according Sheriff Leon Lott.
The detainees began to riot at the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center off Bluff Road at about 8 a.m., Lott said. A special response team of the Richland County Sheriff's Department had taken control and stopped the riot by about 8:30 a.m, according to Lott.
Detainees in a "pod" of 50 inmates took over their area of the jail with at least one weapon described as "a shank" and held the guards hostage for an unspecified time, Lott said.
Deputies are investigating whether 50 detainees rioted and held the guards or if it was only certain detainees. It's also unclear how the riot started, Lott said. No inmates were injured.
"We'll look at what happened this morning and we'll look at what as a team we can do to prevent something like this from happening again," he said.
The detainees "destroyed as much as they could," Lott said. The two guards "were at their mercy for a while."
The guard's injuries are not life threatening but they were taken to a hospital after being treated at the jail.
"They're going to survive," Lott said of the correctional officers. "They're not life-threatening injuries, but they are injured. When you have something like this, you not only have the physical injury, you have the mental injury."
Sheriff's deputies entered the cell block "with a show of force," but the detainees had all gone to their cells by that time, according to Lott. Deputies used neither gas nor weapons, Lott said.
"We used a show of force. We wanted to make sure that they knew we were not playing. And we were not playing," Lott said.
Lott spoke about the riot at a 10:30 a.m. news conference outside the jail, which is in Lower Richland.
"We're very fortunate this morning that more people weren't injured," he said.
By late morning, deputies were removing inmates from the cell block and sweeping cells in search of other weapons.
"The officers are in charge. The inmates do not control this jail," Lott said.
County detention centers, like Alvin S. Glenn, are operated by county governments and are not part of the South Carolina Department of Corrections. Some detention centers are run by county sheriff's offices while others are operated as separate county departments. The Richland County Sheriff's Department does not operate the Alvin S. Glenn center. Rather, the jail is managed by a director who reports to the county administrator.
For the most part, detainees who are held at county detention centers have only been accused of a crime or crimes. Some are held in a detention center because a judge denied bond after determining they were a danger to the community or may try to flee the county or state to avoid prosecution. Others are in county jails because they can't afford to pay the bond, which is the amount of money a judge set for them to get out.
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