Lee County Fire/Rescue assisted with an incident at Lee Correctional where seven inmates were killed earlier this month. (Lee County Fire/Rescue)

Officials release causes of death for 7 inmates killed in South Carolina prison riot

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Officials Tuesday released more information about how seven inmates were killed during a riot at Lee Correctional Institution earlier this month.

According to Lee County Coroner Larry Logan, all seven died from exsanguination, or severe blood loss, due to multiple sharp force injuries due to stab wounds and incised wounds.

Five died at the prison; two later died at McLeod Health in Florence, Logan said.

“We have trained for this for years, hoping it never happened,” he said of coroners around the state reaching out to assist in the autopsies. “It could have been a bus wreck or a plane crash.”

The seven who died were: Eddie Casey Jay Gaskins; Joshua Svwin Jenkins; Michael Milledge; Cornelius Quantral McClary; Damonte Marquez Rivera; Raymond Angelo Scott; and Corey Scott.

Logan said in the hours after the carnage that most of the victims appeared to have died from stabbing or slash wounds.

The deadly ordeal began in one of the maximum-security prison’s dormitories the evening of April 15, officials said. A short time later, fights broke out in two more dorms.

The prison — South Carolina’s largest — was not secure until around 3 a.m. on April 16, officials said.

It was the deadliest incident in a U.S. prison in a quarter-century.

Videos apparently taken by inmates showed the bloody aftermath of the riot, with some inmates seen wandering the cellblock with knives in their hands.

Corrections officials have said a gang fight over territory and contraband, including cellphones, prompted the deadly riot.

The locks on multiple cell doors at the prison were not functioning when the riot broke out, officials said.

Understaffing, another issue that has long plagued South Carolina prisons, has again entered discussions surrounding the riot. Gov. Henry McMaster on Monday signed an executive order giving prisons Director Bryan Stirling the authorization to use vacancy funding to increase the pay of some corrections officers and raise starting salaries in an effort to fill 627 vacant positions for guards.

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