LANCASTER, Calif. � About 300 inmates rioted at a crowded state prison Thursday, prompting a crackdown by guards using tear gas and wooden bullets, authorities said. Six inmates were seriously injured.
Fighting broke out in a prison yard about 10:45 a.m., said Margot Bach, a state corrections spokeswoman.
The riot was quelled after about 15 minutes and the entire institution was locked down, Bach said. The prison is in the Mojave Desert about 40 miles north of Los Angeles.
Guards used pepper spray, tear gas and wooden bullets on the prisoners before firing several warning shots, Bach said. She said it was unclear whether any prisoners were hit. No guards or staff were hurt.
Numerous inmate-manufactured weapons were found on the yard, Bach said.
Two inmates were stabbed and had collapsed lungs, while two others had serious slash wounds, she said. They were to be taken by helicopter to local hospitals. Two other inmates were taken by ambulance to hospitals with unspecified injuries.
At midday the prison remained locked down, with many inmates confined to their cells. Dozens of others sat outside along a prison yard fence, waiting for guards to search them and the grounds for weapons.
The prison was designed to hold 2,200 prisoners but currently has more than 4,000 inmates in its minimum- and maximum-security wings. It was not immediately clear whether crowding may have contributed to the rioting and Bach said it may take several days to determine the exact cause.
Last year, a racial brawl involving more than 120 inmates left 10 people injured. In 1999, an inmate was shot by guards during another brawl between whites and Hispanics.
Bach said race didn't appear to be behind Thursday's riot.
"It was multiracial. There wasn't any group attacking any other groups specifically. They all got into it," she said.
The 262-acre prison opened in 1993 and has more than 1,200 employees, including more than 800 custody staff.