1 Dead, 16 Injured in California Prison Riot

A fight involving more than three dozen inmates at Kern Valley State Prison has left one prisoner dead and 16 others injured, corrections officials said Thursday.

Four of the wounded were shot by guards as they attempted to break up the Wednesday afternoon melee.

Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation spokeswoman Terry Thornton said 23-year-old Oscar Cruz was taken to a hospital after he was stabbed by other inmates. He died on the operating table at Delano Regional Medical Center.

Thornton said the fight among 38 Hispanic inmates broke out about 3:20 p.m. Wednesday at the maximum-security prison near Delano, which is 30 miles north of Bakersfield at the southern end of the San Joaquin Valley. It houses about 4,900 inmates.

Cruz, who had been in prison since 2005, was one of three inmates who were stabbed. He had been serving a 37-year sentence on a Los Angeles County conviction of robbery with use of a firearm, with time added because he was involved in a street gang, Thornton said.

Three of the inmates shot by guards were being treated at area hospitals and were expected to survive, while the fourth had already returned to the prison.

Three other inmates were hospitalized after they were struck by blunt projectiles fired by prison guards. Guards also used pepper spray to break up the fight.

Six inmates were hospitalized with bruises and other injuries, Thornton said.

No prison employees were injured.

Inmates were locked in their cells Thursday, although Hispanic inmates were likely to remain on lock-down through the weekend as investigators examine what led to the fight, Thornton said.

Four weapons made by inmates were recovered at the scene. Prison investigators are working with the Kern County district attorney's office to decide if anyone will be charged with a crime.