CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Three inmates from the South Central Regional Jail were taken to the hospital early Tuesday morning amid a confusing situation at the lockup in Kanawha County.
The Charleston Police Department and Charleston Fire Department were both called to the jail in Charleston’s Southridge area. Initially it was a call of a medical problem, but a report of a gas leak at the jail came as the initial ambulance was headed to the scene.
“Originally the Charleston Fire Department ambulance was sent for a medical problem and later 911 called and sent out a fire engine for a gas leak,” said Lt. David Hodges of the Charleston Fire Department.
It turned out there was no gas leak. The source of the odor was traced to a pump in the mechanical room. During the response to the leak, several inmates were transferred to another pod of the lockup.
“Two of those inmates tried to take advantage of the situation while in a hallway,” said Lawrence Messina, Spokesman for the Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety. “O-C (pepper) spray was deployed, and the two were being medically evaluated as a result.”
Hodges added the situation created some confusion.
“They were moving inmates and it seems like they may have had some disobedience,” he said. “Things may have escalated.”
Three inmates were transported to the hospital. One was the source of the original medical call to the ambulance, the other two were the inmates who refused to comply with corrections officers in the relocation activity.
Messina denied claims the incident was a jailhouse “riot.”
“Absolutely not, or even anything close to it.” Messina told Metronews.
Although a large number of law enforcement responded, Messina said that response was a result of confusion over the initial call about the gas leak and not regarding inmate behavior inside the lockup.