31 inmates take part in Richmond County jail fight

A fight broke out at the Richmond County jail on Friday night after three deputy jailers confronted a group of inmates they caught gambling.

Thirty-one inmates were involved in the altercation about 7:30 p.m., and at least three deputies were taken to the hospital with injuries, though none were life-threatening, Sheriff Ronnie Strength said.

One deputy jailer had a broken nose, another had a broken rib or rib injuries and a third was stabbed in the face with a pencil.

"(The deputies) went in there to stop the gambling, and the inmates got mad and started fighting the officers," the sheriff said.

Additional officers from the uniformed force and special operations were called in to help, he said.

Half of the sixth floor, where the fight occurred, was on lockdown Friday night, Strength said. That means the prisoners remained locked in their cells with no visitors allowed and no privileges.

Charges against the inmates are pending a discussion with the district attorney, but Strength said he expected those charges to at least include felony obstruction of law enforcement officers.

He said it's hard to say what could have prevented the fight.

"These things happen," he said. "You're dealing with a criminal element, and they do not care."