Prisons locked down after gang attack at Tehachapi

Four officers and two inmates are hurt. Corrections officials are concerned that the violence may be part of an organized plan at multiple facilities.

By Michael Rothfeld, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
April 4, 2008

SACRAMENTO– — State corrections officials placed California’s entire adult prison system on lockdown Thursday afternoon after two gang members attacked four officers inside a Tehachapi facility, a spokesman said.

The prison guards — two sergeants and two correctional officers — were injured in the 1:10 p.m. assault in an office at the California Correctional Institution. They were taken to area hospitals.

Three officers sustained cuts and puncture wounds during the attack by the inmates, members of the Surenos, a Southern California gang, and two weapons were recovered, said officials with the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

Guards used pepper spray, batons and physical force to stop the attack. Both inmates were also injured and hospitalized, and one was flown from the prison by helicopter for treatment of head wounds.

Scott Kernan, the correction agency’s chief deputy secretary for adult operations, said the statewide lockdown would probably continue at least through this morning as investigators tried to determine whether the attack was part of an organized plan at multiple prisons. There are 170,000 inmates in the state system, including 4,705 at Tehachapi.

“It was very, very unusual that inmates would make an organized attack on staff, and that’s why we’re taking it so seriously,” Kernan said.

In a lockdown, inmates must remain in their dormitories or cells and are permitted to leave only for essential reasons such as to eat or to perform certain work assignments.

Some institutions are frequently on lockdown, which can last a few hours or a few months.

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