Four San Quentin State Prison inmates were seriously injured during a dining hall riot involving nearly 200 convicts Sunday, a prison spokesman said.
The men suffered stab and slash wounds after the massive brawl erupted around 6:50 p.m., spokesman Lt. Sam Robinson said. No staff members were injured in the fight, Robinson said.
Ten inmate-made weapons were discovered after the melee, which lasted for a couple of minutes. Guards stopped the brawl using nonlethal bullets and pepper spray, Robinson said.
The cause of the riot is under investigation, he said.
"We have an idea who started the fight," Robinson said.
The injured men were taken to a hospital outside the prison. Three returned to the prison Sunday night, and the fourth remained at the hospital overnight, Robinson said.
Several other inmates suffered less severe injuries in the brawl, he said.
The incident occurred just two days after a riot broke out at Sacramento’s state prison. Six inmates were injured, two seriously, in the fight involving about 150 convicts in the exercise yard. Seven makeshift weapons were found, including six knives and a cane, officials said. The cause of that riot also remains under investigation.
Prison officials do not believe the riots at San Quentin and Sacramento were related. They also don't suspect gangs started the brawls.
Riots lead to prison lockdowns that can hamper a gang's criminal operations, said LeVance Quinn, a spokesman for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
"They lose money when they go on lockdown," Quinn said.
Currently prison officials are probing video surveillance, hoping to find the perpertators of the massive brawls.
San Quentin is the state’s oldest prison and houses nearly 5,000 men, including those on death row.
After the San Quentin brawl, 13 inmates were moved to separate housing, and about 350 reception center inmates remained on a "modified program" Monday, meaning they are confined to their cells and have had their activities restricted other than doctor's appointments, Robinson said.
Bay City News contributed to this report.