Juvenile detention center riot under control - WFLA News Channel 8

Juvenile detention center riot under control

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Polk County deputies say a riot that broke out last night at the Avon Park Youth Academy is under control. 

The sheriff's office says it started getting calls just before 9 p.m. on Saturday night about a riot at the facility that houses juvenile delinquents.

 Numerous police agencies responded along with the Polk County Sheriff's Office, including FHP, FWC, Avon Park Police and the Highlands County Sheriff's Office. Polk deputies also brought in their swat and K-9 teams along with their police helicopter.

Authorities say they evacuated all of the staff at the compound first and then secured all of the juveniles in flex cuffs and escorted them out of the riot area. A total of seven juveniles were transported to Florida Hospital in Sebring with injuries ranging from a broken leg to bruises, lower back pain, lacerations and a concussion.

The riot started after a fight broke out between two groups of teens playing basketball. One group of five teens from St. Pete were playing against a group of five teens from Orlando. The wager for the game was three "Cup O Noodles" soup containers. When the group from St. Pete lost they refused to pay the other team and that's when the fight broke out. Officials say other teens who were not playing basketball joined in the fight and a riot broke out.

During the riot, the teens destroyed eighteen of the twenty buildings in the compound and deputies say the damage will amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars. During the riot, one office building containing the delinquents records was set on fire and a dumpster was also set on fire. Both fires were put out without incident.  

"The worst trashed building was the medical building."  Said Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd.   "They went there apparently looking for drugs. There's not a door, there's not a drawer, there's not a cabinet that wasn't forced open. It was trashed."  Sheriff Judd says G4S workers are contracted by the Department of Juvenile Justice and are ill equipped to handle a large fight, let alone a full blown riot.  "They're not allowed to carry pepper spray, the only thing they can do is take them to the ground. Physically, take them to the ground. "  Said Sheriff Judd.

Officials say during the riot, a staff radio and all of the staff golf carts were taken by the teens.  "I watched them break windows."  Said the sheriff.  "I watched them gather up on golf carts and ride around and scream and holler at law enforcement. But interestingly enough, when it came time to take them into custody, they were peaceful with us. Something they weren't with G4S. The difference? We're trained, we have equipment and we mean business. "

Sixty four of the juveniles were transported to the Polk South County Jail in Frostproof. The remaining seventy three juveniles were secured at the Avon Park Youth Academy.

Detectives are now conducting an investigation into which of the juveniles will be charged with multiple felonies. 

 

 

  

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