Crime

5 staffers injured at SCI Houtzdale; situation ‘resolved peacefully’

Pennsylvania State Police members gather outside the SCI Houtzdale prison, in Houtzdale, Pa., Tuesday, April 28, 2015, after an incident that left several staff members injured.
Pennsylvania State Police members gather outside the SCI Houtzdale prison, in Houtzdale, Pa., Tuesday, April 28, 2015, after an incident that left several staff members injured. CDT photo

The state prison at Houtzdale was on lockdown for several hours Tuesday and support staff from other state prisons were called in after five staff members were injured in an incident in the prison yard, Superintendent Kenneth Cameron said in a news release.

The incident Tuesday afternoon began when a fight broke out between two inmates. Five corrections officers were injured when they intervened. One was taken by helicopter to a hospital.

The incident began at about 2:30 p.m. in the recreational area, which is a separate area within the fenced-in perimeter of the prison.

Late Tuesday, the incident was “resolved peacefully,” state Department of Corrections spokeswoman Sue Bensinger said in a news release, when a number of inmates who refused to leave the recreational area were brought back to their cells.

“This type of behavior is totally unacceptable and will not be tolerated,’’ Corrections Secretary John Wetzel said in a statement. “Our staff members risk their lives every day to protect and maintain the public safety of the citizens of this commonwealth.’’

Corrections Emergency Response Team personnel from Rockview and Benner state prisons were among those sent to Houtzdale to assist staff, Bensinger said.

There was no apparent property damage, she said.

Staff will investigate the incident and conduct a “thorough search” of inmates and the prison in the next few days.

Wetzel praised Cameron and the prison staff for their response.

“I ask everyone to keep the injured officers in their thoughts,” he said.

Inmate visits have been canceled until further notice at the 2,500-inmate prison.

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