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Several Hundred Inmates Involved In Riot At Eyman Prison In Florence

Several hundred inmates living on the Cook unit of the Eyman prison in Florence were involved in a riot Wednesday afternoon. Arizona Department of Corrections Director of Communications Judy Keane said the unit remained locked down Wednesday evening "after several hundred inmates grouped together around staff and refused to disperse."

Families of inmates at the Cook unit reported pepper balls and rubber bullets were fired at the inmates.

Keane confirmed that two specialized teams of Department security staff were involved in the incident. "The Designated Armed Response Team (DART) and Tactical Support Unit (TSU) responded to the incident and deployed nonlethal munitions to gain inmates’ compliance with instructions and secure the inmates inside their dorms," Keane said. "At no point was public safety jeopardized."

Inmate family members said their loved ones were zip-tied and held on a yard while prison officials searched their living areas. Emails from inmates living at the Cook unit said windows had been broken on the property. One inmate wrote that the unit looked like it had "exploded."

"They came in with tear gas, flash bangs, pepper spray, and started shooting them at everyone," the inmate wrote. "It was basically a war zone."

The Department said there were no staff or inmate injuries reported Wednesday night. It was not clear what prompted the riot, but several inmate family members told KJZZ their loved ones were unhappy with conditions at the prison. Keane said the unit would remain under lockdown "pending further investigation and assessment."

EDITOR'S NOTE: This story has been modified to correct the spelling of Judy Keane's name.

Jimmy Jenkins was a producer and senior field correspondent at KJZZ from 2014 to 2021.