A riot broke out at a prison in southern Alabama, authorities said on Saturday, and a local news website said inmates had set fires and overturned beds.
An unidentified dispatcher with the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office confirmed the disturbance at the Holman Correctional Facility in Atmore, about 50 miles (80 km) north of Mobile, but declined to give details about the situation.
It was unclear what caused the riot and whether there were any casualties. “We are not taking any calls,” said a woman who answered the phone at the prison. She then hung up.
News website Al.com posted photos and a video it said showed prisoners setting fires and roaming freely in the facility. Several inmates covered their faces with white towels in the video, which appeared to have been shot by an inmate.
The website said prisoners were using social media to report that “gates are rolled up” and that they had overturned beds.
“Please pray for my son in Holman Prison a riot Lord Jesus,” wrote Zannice Houston on Facebook, referring to her son Jamario.
Al.com quoted one Facebook post as saying prisoners were fighting for their lives. “The police down here beating on and just treating us any kind way,” said the post, which Reuters was not able to verify. “Please contact the News, Newspaper, Radio station. NCAAP. Help please.”
The 1,031-bed facility houses minimum- through maximum-security inmates, including some on death row. The 46-year-old prison is the only facility in Alabama that carries out executions.
(Reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)