Probation Officers Among Those Who Respond to a North Carolina Prison Riot

A number of agencies responded to a fiery riot at the minimum security Neuse Correctional Institute in Goldsboro, North Carolina:

  • Probation officers
  • Several fire departments
  • NC Highway Patrol
  • Goldsboro Police
  • Waync County Sheriff’s Office
  • NC Department of Public Safety – Prison Emergency Response Team (PERT)

Inmates started at least two fires at the minimum-security prison which houses 788 prisoners. One of the fires was started in a storage shed that was destroyed. The other fire was set inside the diagnostic building in the prison.

A prison staff member and an inmate were hurt during the melee. Michael Collins, a prison employee, was struck in the face several times with a closed fist.

The inmate—Tristan Phillips—suffered major injuries after being attacked by three inmates until a correction officer walked in and stopped the assault.

In addition, rocks and bottles thrown over a prison fence damaged two vehicles of the Goldsboro Police Department. This caused about $1,000 in damages to the cars.

Officials originally called the incident a “disturbance” before upgrading it to a “riot.” They were hesitant to call it a riot at first, because the inmates did not have total control over the facility.

The incident lasted for more than 4 hours and resulted in the prison being placed on lockdown. The riot started around 4:30 PM, and LEOs got everything under control by about 9 PM.

About 500 of the inmates were transferred to other facilities due to damage inside the prison.

The responding officers tried to video and record as much of the melee as possible. They hope to identify the inmates involved to separate them from those who were not involved in the violence.

Officials are now trying to figure out the reason for the riot. According to State Prison Director George Solomon, overcrowding should not have been an issue. It is possible that conditions after a recent flood could have been the cause.