Edmonton prison conflict wounds eight

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

The location of Edmonton, the province's capital, within Alberta

Eight inmates at a maximum security prison in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada are hospitalized after a conflict broke out on Tuesday, July 1, 2008. Police state that there are at least eight who were stabbed, all of them are in their 20s, and one of the injured was also shot.

The incident, I think, was very much a surprise to one of the gangs involved in this fight.

—Kevin Grabowsky, region president of the Union of Canadian Correctional Officers

Violence began at about 3:00 pm MDT (21:00 UTC), when fifty inmates went out to a fenced yard for a recreational period at Edmonton Institution. Fighting quickly broke out between gangs when inmates attacked a group. Prison officers fired warning shots but they did not deter the fighting and an inmate was shot. Security eventually was able to remove the eight injured and have paramedics transport them to Royal Alexandra Hospital and University of Alberta Hospital by ground and air ambulance. Six are in stable condition, but two are in critical condition. Kevin Grabowsky, region president of the prison officer's union said, "The incident, I think, was very much a surprise to one of the gangs involved in this fight."

When the fighting ceased after the wounded were transported to the hospital, about 40 of the other remaining inmates stayed in the yard and refused to return to their cells. Negotiators tried to rectify the situation, but the prisoners' demands are not clear. Between 10:00-11:00 pm MDT, a fire was started by the inmates in the yard. Soon, officers equipped with riot gear entered the yard and cornered the inmates with tear gas. Fire rescue crews eventually doused the fire by 11:35 pm.

Edmonton Institute is a maximum security correctional facility located in Edmonton, Alberta and houses over 200 inmates. There is high tension between gangs in the prison, which was locked down during the situation.

Authorities have recovered some of the weapons, and are investigating the incident.