Inmates at a New South Wales detention centre remain in a standoff with police following a riot that broke out at the facility last night. Violence erupted at the Frank Baxter Juvenile Justice Centre in Kariong, near Gosford, when a large group of inmates escaped from their cells, attacking staff and other detainees. At least seven inmates were injured in the fracas, including two who were stabbed.
Emergency services were called to the detention centre at about 8:30 PM, according to a statement from NSW Police, with heavily armed police establishing a perimeter around the facility. The ABC reported that a group of inmates had cornered a prisoner officer and taken their keys, using them to open a gardening shed where items such as chainsaws and pickaxes were stored before releasing other inmates from their cells. Superintendent Tony Joice from Brisbane Water Police described it as a "sudden and unprovoked incident" from "uncontrolled" inmates.
"A number of inmates had armed themselves with makeshift weapons and have gone about assaulting other inmates within the centre," he said.
Public Service Association general secretary Stewart Little meanwhile described the events as “nothing short of horrific”, and suggested that the escaped inmates intended to find and potentially kill convicted sex offenders housed at the facility.
“Upwards of 30 of those detainees have obtained control of that centre. They have then turned around and sought to go after known sex offenders,” he said, as reported by NewsCorp. “They have set about, as we understand, with the intent to either murdering those offenders or do very, very serious harm to those offenders.
A number of those detainees are currently sitting in intensive care with stab wounds to the chest and head injuries… How [did] this happen? They’ve taken the keys and got control of the centre."
A group of at least seven males could be seen on the roof of one of the facility’s buildings this morning, brandishing shovels and gardening tools and exposing themselves to police and media. One inmate was reportedly using a tennis racquet to hit tennis balls at police, who were approaching the building with ladders. The riot squad, dog unit, bomb disposal unit, and police helicopters were all deployed to the scene, as well as resources from neighbouring police districts.
NSW Police confirmed that one 18-year-old suffered stab wounds and facial injuries, and was taken by NSW Ambulance paramedics to Royal North Shore Hospital in a serious condition, while another 18-year-old suffered stab wounds to his head and hands. One 20-year-old suffered facial and hand injuries; another suffered injuries to his hand, arm, and leg; and a 17-year-old suffered facial and head injuries. Another 17-year-old dislocated his ankle after jumping off a roof. They were all taken to Gosford Hospital, and a seventh inmate was later treated at the scene for a broken nose.
"Those who need treatment have been receiving treatment," said Superintendent Joice.
Negotiations between police and the inmates on the roof are ongoing, and four are confirmed to have surrendered so far.
"It’s only by the grace of God there hasn’t been body bags carried out of that facility," said Stewart.
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