A “Mass Inmate Disturbance” At SEORJ Ended With Flash Bangs, Tear Gas And No Injuries

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ATHENS, Ohio (WOUB) — Officers used flash bangs and tear gas to stop a mass inmate disturbance at the regional jail Thursday afternoon.

No injuries to law enforcement or inmates were reported, said Athens County Sheriff Rodney Smith.

Smith said he received a call for help around 2:50 p.m. from the warden at the Southeastern Ohio Regional Jail regarding a disturbance in cell blocks C and E.

WOUB reached out to warden Joshua VanBibber to learn more about the nature of the disturbance but he was not available.

First responder's vehicle line the road leading to the Southeast Ohio Regional Jail
First responder’s vehicle line the road leading to the Southeast Ohio Regional Jail on Thursday, Sept. 16. [Benjamin Schwartz | WOUB]
A special response team consisting of sheriff’s deputies and officers from the Athens and Ohio University police departments was sent to the jail, Smith said.

Negotiators with the sheriff’s office first tried to engage with the inmates but they were not interested in talking, Smith said.

Members of the special response team then tried to enter the two cell blocks but the doors had been tied shut with some kind of cable, Smith said.

The team was able to breach the doors and once inside ordered the inmates to stop what they were doing, and when they refused the team used the flash bangs and tear gas.

The inmates stopped resisting at this point and were handcuffed and turned over to jail staff, Smith said.

Smith said the incident was over at about 4:30 p.m.


This story will be updated if more information become available.