80 riot at jail in Towson Officer injured

order restored

July 10, 1993|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,Staff Writer

Eighty inmates in two sections of the Baltimore County Detention Center in Towson set fires and pelted a guard booth with debris during a 15 minute noontime riot yesterday.

Correctional Officer Leonard Foy was injured when glass from the window of an elevated control booth shattered and a sliver hit his eye. He was treated and released at Greater Baltimore Medical Center, a hospital spokeswoman said.

No inmates were injured, jail officials said.

The prisoners set fire to trash and a shower curtain, destroyed several wall telephones and ripped down sprinkler pipes, which caused water leakage.

Dozens of helmeted guards carrying batons and pepper mace restored order about 15 minutes after the disturbance erupted, according to Maj. John P. Connelly Jr., deputy administrator of the nearby work-release center.

"They just went off up there," Major Connelly said.

The outbreak occurred in two correctional "pods" on the top floor of the four-story building on Kenilworth Drive. Originally built to house 20 inmates each, they are both now double-celled and hold 40 inmates.

All 475 inmates were locked in their cells after the trouble broke out, and two county maintenance workers were briefly locked into the boiler room for their own protection.

Major Connelly said the general lock-down was called off in late afternoon, but he said the inmates in the two "pods" involved in the violence would remain locked in their cells "indefinitely."

The center, built in 1982, is air-conditioned and crowding is below maximum capacity of 530, Major Connelly said.

The violence came without warning, and the cause wasn't clear, he said. Some inmates refused food earlier yesterday, and several complained about poor water pressure. Others were angry about a more restrictive telephone system now being installed, and rules prohibiting all smoking in the building, jail administrators said.

Two maintenance workers were trying to adjust water flow to ease pressure problems when the riot occurred, a county central services official said.

County police spokesman Stephen R. Doarnberger said that county police are investigating and will file criminal charges against inmates who can be identified as having helped destroy property and assault Officer Foy.

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