welch — Rioting inmates took over the third floor of a McDowell County prison Feb. 14; however, quick response by local law enforcement quelled the uprising within hours.

The incident occurred at Stevens Correctional Center in Welch late that Monday and continued into the early morning hours of Tuesday (Feb. 15), according to a dispatcher with the county 911 center.

At 11 p.m., law enforcement were notified that inmates had taken over the third floor of the facility, West Virginia State Police First Sgt. C.K. McKenzie said.

Officers responded from the State Police Welch and Princeton detachments, the McDowell County Sheriff’s Office, and the Welch Police Department.

Lawrence Messina, with the West Virginia Department of Homeland Security, said the Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation also responded after prison staff requested assistance with a group of inmates who had been fighting.

“After refusing orders to stop, these inmates had begun damaging equipment and appliances within their housing unit,” Messina said.

“There were essentially eight primary offenders that were instigating and carrying out the incident,” McKenzie said. “Once local law enforcement got there, they made entry onto the third floor and were able to regain control of the facility without any incident.”

McKenzie said there were no injuries to prisoners or responding law enforcement officers.

McDowell County Sheriff James Muncy praised the actions of the correctional officials and law enforcement officers.

“They (correctional officers) did a good job securing the facility to make sure nobody else got access to the facility, and in making sure nobody escaped or gained access to other areas of the facility,” Muncy said.

Weapons belonging to inmates were found during the incident, Muncy said.

Muncy noted the facility houses state felony offenders — individuals convicted of a crime with a sentence of more than one year in prison.

He said seven deputies responded to the scene including Chief Deputy Mark Shelton, who is a certified FBI hostage negotiator.

Once law enforcement arrived on scene, Muncy said the inmates “saw the seriousness of their situation and it was resolved without incident.”

Messina said the inmates involved have been transferred to the Mount Olive Correctional Complex.

— Contact Samantha Perry at sperry@bdtonline.com.

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