OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Three inmates were stabbed to death during an attack or fight at an Oklahoma prison and a fourth died of his injuries overnight, an official said Sunday.
The violence erupted at around 4 p.m. Saturday at the Cimarron Correctional Facility in Cushing, a community between the state's two largest cities, Oklahoma City and Tulsa.
A preliminary investigation determined that the stabbings apparently happened in quick succession while the inmates at a medium-security wing of the prison were being let out of their cells into the exercise yard, said Terri Watkins, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Corrections. She said investigators were still trying to determine what caused the violence.
"The entire stabbing incident happened over a couple of minutes," Watkins said, adding that prisoners were all locked in their cells within 40 minutes of the outbreak of violence.
No prison staff were injured or involved in the attack, Watkins said.
The Department of Corrections identified the victims Monday as: 31-year-old Anthony Fulwilder, 26-year-old Michael Mayden, 23-year-old Kyle Tiffee and 29-year-old Christopher Tignor. All four of the inmates had convictions out of Oklahoma County, where the state's capital city, Oklahoma City, is located.
Three other inmates wounded in the melee remained hospitalized Monday in stable condition.
Steve Owen, a spokesman for Tennessee-based Corrections Corporation of America, which owns and operates the prison, said the inmate attacks lasted less than two minutes. He didn't immediately respond to an email Sunday seeking further details.
It is the second major violent outburst in months at the prison.
In June, some 200 to 300 of the prison's roughly 1,600 inmates were involved in a brawl there. Eleven prisoners were taken to hospitals after the fight and the facility was placed on lockdown. The fighting occurred among inmates in three separate housing units.
Watkins said that as a precaution, all Oklahoma prisons have been placed on lockdown, which means that inmates are confined to their cells and their movement inside the facility is severely restricted.
She said two separate investigations are underway — one by the Department of Corrections' inspector general's office and the other by the company that operates the prison, which houses medium- and maximum-security male inmates.
Oklahoma has the highest rate of prison homicides in the nation, with state inmates killed at a rate more than three times the national average, according to figures from the Bureau of Justice Statistics.
The figures reviewed by The Associated Press as part of a months-long investigation earlier this year show that there were 39 homicides at Oklahoma prisons between 2001 and 2012, a rate of 14 per 100,000 inmates. The national average is 4 per 100,000.
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