Inmates break windows, set fires during weekend riot at El Dorado prison
photo by: Associated Press
EL DORADO — Inmates broke dozens of windows and set fires during a weekend disturbance at a maximum-security prison in south-central Kansas that has been the scene of other incidents, officials said Monday.
Nobody was hurt in the fracas that started around noon Sunday in the recreation yard at the prison in El Dorado and lasted about 4 ½ hours, said Kansas Department of Corrections spokesman Samir Arif. Between 75 and 150 inmates were involved.
State union president Sarah LaFrenz says a corrections officer who witnessed what happened told her around 40 windows were broken. She said two classrooms had fire and smoke damage, and one other building was set on fire. The officer also told LaFrenz that inmates got access to radio communication devices from the classrooms and an office.
There was “much more damage” than what occurred at the facility during a disturbance there last year, she said.
The county sheriff’s office and Highway Patrol established a perimeter, and prison officials were able to establish control inside the prison quicker than in the past, she said.
“This was a very bad situation and we were very lucky that there weren’t any injuries,” LaFrenz said. “It was very significant and very frightening and incredibly dangerous for everyone involved.”
Arif confirmed there were broken windows, as well as smoke and fire damage, but provided no specifics because the investigation was ongoing.
Prison officials are still investigating what set off the disturbance, but LaFrenz said it apparently began after an inmate on the yard who had refused to comply with directions was restrained and moved. The other inmates on the yard then started the disturbance.
Several disturbances also were reported last year at the prison in El Dorado, which is 33 miles (53 kilometers) east of Wichita, including one that led to a five-day lockdown.