WATCH: Inmates set fire, break windows at downtown St. Louis jail

By and , NewsRadio 1120 KMOX

ST. LOUIS (KMOX) - Detainees at the St. Louis Justice Center downtown, staged an early morning disturbance Saturday, that included them breaking out windows, setting fires and throwing plastic chairs and other items onto the sidewalk and street below.

Public Safety Director Jimmie Edwards says the uprising began around 2:30 a.m. when a detainee fought a corrections officer and some other detainees joined in. The guard suffered non-life threatening injuries.

Edwards says detainees from two separate units on the fourth floor were able to get a few cell door locks open and then gain access to the main control panel to open the rest. He says 117 inmates were involved.

KMOX's Brian Kelly shared live video from the scene of the incident on Tucker Boulevard, which began around 6:30 a.m.

"This was not any type of hostage situation," says Edwards". "No detainee was hurt. This is not a situation where we were required or asked to negotiate with any of the detainees. So, this was not a situation where demands were being made by anyone. These were just very angry, defiant, violent people we house at the Justice Center."

While friends and family members of the detainees say they are upset about covid in the jail, Edwards says there are no cases in the facility. "This was a bunch of people that decided they were going to engage in criminal mayhem and that's exactly what they did and they should be held accountable," he says.

Last month there wer two separate uprisings at the facility, after which some detainees were sent to the medium security facility known as the workhouse, to allow for social distancing. Signs held by the inmates Saturday, reading Free 57, PDI Hothead and Free WightWight, seemed to reference the 57 detainees who were moved.

Edwards says 55 of the detainees involved in Saturday's incident were placed in a segregated unit with better security. The rest have been taken to the workhouse.

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Featured Image Photo Credit: (Brian Kelly, KMOX)