Order restored after inmates riot at King County Jail

Order restored after inmates riot at King County Jail »Play Video
Police officers surround the jail during the disturbance.
SEATTLE - Inmates armed with homemade weapons rioted at the King County jail Sunday afternoon, triggering a lockdown and massive police response before the disturbance was brought under control about 1 1/2 hours later, officials said.

Jail spokesman Maj. William Hayes said the disturbance broke out on the 10th floor of the jail at about 2 p.m., when a guard felt threatened and called for backup.

Several inmates quickly joined in the riot, displaying weapons, trying to flood the area with water, smashing windows and damaging other jail property, Hayes said.

As the chaos grew worse, officers from the King County Jail loaded up their tactical weapons and locked down all floors of the jail.

A frantic call went out for all available police units to report to the scene, and streets were closed around the jail's perimeter amid fears that some inmates may have attempted to escape.

"That was a concern, and that's why the heavy presence of SPD officers," said Renee Witt, Seattle police spokeswoman. "State Patrol shut down the freeway, we set up an outer perimeter here - we were concerned about that. And luckily, it didn't happen."

A SWAT team then responded and entered the building, restoring order one section at a time.

Soon after, the inmates calmed down and the incident was brought under control. At about 3:40 p.m., the Seattle Police Department reported that the "incident is over."

Hayes said it was later determined that a total of about 15 inmates were involved in the 10th floor disturbance. All could face charges, he said.

Hayes later said no guards, officers or inmates were injured during the melee.

And investigators still were trying to determine exactly how the incident started - whether it was inmates versus inmates, or inmates trying to take on the guards.

Hayes said the 10th floor area the riot broke out is where the highest-risk inmates are housed - those charged with murder, armed robbery and other violent crimes.