By Peter Hecht
Correctional officers at Folsom State Prison today put down a wild prison melee involving up to 70 suspected gang members, firing pepper spray and non-lethal rounds to quell the riot.
No serious injuries were reported in the clash that broke out between two apparent rival gang factions. The brawl prompted correctional officers to summon reinforcements from the nearby California State Prison, Sacramento, said state Corrections department spokesman Lt. Paul Baker.
The incident was ultimately brought under control by the first responding officers from the old Folsom Prison. They used pepper spray and non-lethal, sponge tipped rounds to drive back the combatants and also fired warning shots into the ground.
Several inmates were treated for non-serious cuts and scrapes but no correctional officers were injured, Baker said.
"We believe it was gang-related but we won't know until the investigation is completed," said Baker, who said the melee was subdued after about five minutes.
The prison was kept on security alert this afternoon after the incident. Baker said inmates were allowed access to the dining hall in small groups and given limited time out of their cells in lieu of a full prison lockdown.
The incident is to be reviewed by a department of corrections deadly force investigation team, the Sacramento County district attorney's office and the inspector general's bureau of the state Department of Justice.
Folsom State Prison, opened in 1880, is the second oldest prison in California. It houses more than 3,100 inmates.