DENVER: Guards shot and killed two inmates at a federal prison after up to 200 inmates battled with homemade weapons in a fight that appeared to be racially motivated, authorities said.
The fight broke out Sunday in the recreation yard of the high-security U.S. Penitentiary in Florence, about 90 miles (145 kilometers) south of Denver.
U.S. Attorney Troy Eid said Monday that authorities believe the riot started when white supremacist inmates targeted minorities on Adolf Hitler’s birthday.
The Bureau of Prisons identified the slain inmates as Brian Scott Kubik, serving a 15-year term on weapons charges, and Phillip Lee Hooker, serving 25 years for armed robbery.
Fremont County Coroner Dorothy Twellman said Kubik, 40, and Hooker, 41, each died of a gunshot wound to the chest.
Five other inmates were taken to hospitals with undisclosed injuries, prison spokeswoman Leann LaRiva said. Two were returned to the prison but three remained hospitalized Monday, she said.
Prison spokeswoman Leann LaRiva said the inmates were fighting with rocks, sharpened metal, plastic, and wood.
Guards first warned the inmates over loudspeakers to stop fighting and get on the ground, LaRiva said.
When the fighting escalated, guards fired “less-lethal” rounds before opening fire with bullets, she said.
LaRiva said the less-lethal rounds were similar to beanbag rounds. She said prison officials would not disclose the exact nature of the rounds, or say how many bullets were fired.
The U.S. Penitentiary is one of three prisons in the Florence Federal Correctional Complex; the others are the Federal Correctional Institution and the “Supermax” penitentiary that holds some of the nation’s worst criminals.
Associated Press writer Dan Elliott contributed to this report.