CHARLESTON -- Missouri Department of Corrections officials are investigating a series of violent incidents which have occurred at the Southeast Correctional Center since Jan. 1.
The incidents have all been inmate-on-inmate conflicts and have not resulted in any serious injuries, according to Brian Hauswirth, chief public information officer for the DOC.
The series of incidents began Jan. 1 with a fight in one of the dining rooms that involved seven offenders. The altercation was brought under control with no serious injuries.
That same evening, there was a second altercation in a recreation yard. "That involved about five offenders - again, no serious injuries," Hauswirth said.
SECC authorities responded by placing Housing Unit No. 3 on lockdown status that evening.
"Then we had another incident on Tuesday, Jan. 2, where we had a few altercations in a different recreation yard," Hauswirth said. "This one involved about 12 offenders. With this one there were several offenders who received minor injuries including one who received five stitches above his eyebrow."
A second altercation between two offenders in a different housing unit also occurred later on Jan. 2, but with no serious injuries.
On Jan. 3, an institutionwide search was conducted using SECC's Emergency Squad Unit and E-squads from other institutions.
"Some contraband items were found and discarded," Hauswirth said. "We also did find three prison-made weapons. We confiscated those."
On Jan. 5, multiple offenders were involved in a fight in the same recreation yard area where the Jan. 1 incident took place, according to Hauswirth.
The fight lasted less than a minute, Hauswirth said, before several staff members responded.
While there were no serious injuries, "there were of couple of offenders treated for bruises and abrasions," he said.
Following this incident, a shank (an improvised stabbing weapon) was found abandoned in the yard but authorities are not sure its discovery was connected to the fight.
"All these incidents are under investigation," Hauswirth said. "Safety and security is the No. 1 priority for our staff and the inmates."
He said no staff members were attacked or hurt during any of these altercations.
"Superintendent (Troy) Steele and his staff have done a very good job responding to this," Hauswirth said. "Nonetheless, we're still very concerned."
DOC authorities are taking these incidents very seriously, he said. While a cause for these altercations has not yet been determined, "we're not ruling anything out at this point."