State timeline indicates fight at juvenile center quickly escalated

9:23 PM, Aug 22, 2013   |    comments
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Video: State timeline indicates fight at juvenile center quickly escalated

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Polk County, Florida -- Photographs of the Avon Park Youth Academy show the aftermath of a riot: buildings trashed and windows broken. Another result from Saturday night's disturbance -- investigations by both the Polk County Sheriff's Office and the State Department of Juvenile Justice.

A preliminary report by the DJJ gives us an idea of just how fast things spun out of control at this rehabilitation center for teenage boys.

According to the report, at 8:24 p.m., staff for G4S (the private company that operates the facility for the state) indicates a fight had broken out on a basketball court. Then the document says, "The incident escalated further as youths left their assigned housing units to engage in the melee."

PHOTOS: Avon Park Youth Academy Riot

And by 8:27 p.m., just three minutes later, calls were being made to 911. Here's a sampling from one call.

"There's a full blown riot out here ma'am," you can hear a man tell a woman who is on the line with 911. 

Later that woman says, "They need to know how many units to send," and he responds, "Every unit, everybody, everybody!"

About a half hour later at 8:59 p.m. law enforcement began to arrive.

According to Polk Sheriff Grady Judd who was at the scene and who spoke on Monday, even as some 150 officers from various agencies set up a perimeter, the mayhem continued. 

"We heard and observed them breaking glass, throwing televisions through windows," Judd described.

On Tuesday, DJJ Secretary Wansley Walters toured the academy to take a look at the damage. "We're very upset that this incident occurred," she said while walking through campus.

Today the DJJ released some figures on the cost of repairs so far: $8,000 to replace windows with a shatter-resistant material and $21,000 for light fixtures. And because the academy teaches the teens various trades, so far they've done most of the work. No outside vendors have been called in.

Repairs on the dorms are moving ahead and it's possible that dozens of teens, now being housed at a Polk County jail, could be returned to the academy on Friday.

There's no timeline for a completed DJJ investigation, but a spokesperson says it's possible this riot will bring about some policy changes. In an email Meghan Speakes writes, "The lessons that we learn from this incident will be applied across all DJJ programs."

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