At least seven inmates may have been beaten, stabbed and slashed to death in a nonstop riot at a South Carolina maximum security prison, authorities said.
Fights lasted eight hours at the Lee Correctional Institution in Bishopville, a state prison for men, authorities said.
Another 17 inmates were injured and needed outside medical help after the skirmishes started to break out around 7:15 p.m. Sunday, the Department of Corrections said.
Lee County Coroner Larry Logan said some of the seven killed inmates died of slashing or stab wounds, but others were possibly beaten to death.
He told the Associated Press autopsy results would confirm if that was the case. All victims have been identified, but their names haven’t been released yet.
Logan described the prison as pure chaos when he arrived, with fights everywhere he looked at the facility, which houses about 1,600 inmates.
No law enforcement officials were injured during the violent scuffles, authorities said.
The men’s prison has a troubled history going back several years.
Several inmates took an officer hostage in one part of the prison last month, and got control of one side of a dormitory.
In February, one inmate killed another prisoner. Two officers stationed there were also stabbed in 2015.
South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster’s spokesman said after the riot that the governor has “complete confidence” in Bryan Stirling, who’s served as the state’s prison system head since 2013.