LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Corrections officers at a maximum-security prison in Northern California opened fire with live ammunition on inmates to quell a melee on Wednesday that ended with eight guards and seven inmates sent to hospitals, prison officials said.
Five of the prisoners were wounded by gunfire.
The disturbance at maximum-security Pelican Bay State Prison began about 10:30 a.m. PDT when prison staff responded to a fistfight between two inmates, according to a statement from the California corrections department.
After failing to break up the altercation using chemical agents and batons, the two officers were overwhelmed as large groups of inmates from elsewhere in the prison yard started attacking them, the department said.
At that point, the agency said, "Officers from three armed posts used lethal force," firing numerous rounds of live rifle ammunition.
Eight injured staff members were taken to an outside hospital, where six were treated and released. Two others remained hospitalized and were expected to survive, corrections officials said.
Of the seven inmates taken to outside hospitals, five were treated for gunshot wounds, according to the department.
The uproar led corrections officials to transfer 97 inmates into a special segregation unit and to restrict prisoner movements throughout the facility while the incident is investigated, the department said.
Two inmate-made weapons were recovered but they were not believed to have been used in the fray.
Pelican Bay, located in the far Northern California coastal community of Crescent Bay, opened in 1989 and houses some 2,000 inmates.
(Reporting by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Editing by Bill Trott)