Detainees riot at Justice Center in downtown St. Louis

St. Louis jail riot

ST. LOUIS, Mo. (CBS/ - A group of detainees rioted at the Justice Center in downtown St. Louis Sunday night, the second time such an uprising has occurred in recent months.

When News 4 crews got to the scene, nearly a dozen inmates were seen in yelling out of the third floor windows.

Some inmates were demanding hearing dates in their ongoing criminal proceedings.

Court proceedings have been delayed in the city due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Firefighters and police were called to the St. Louis City Justice Center after inmates were seen setting fires from inside the building.

St. Louis Sheriff Vernon Betts said around 60 inmates had left their cells.

Sheriff Betts did not believe any guards were injured, but he had heard that a couple of inmates had sustained injuries.

The city is without a Director of Public Safety after Judge Jimmie Edward resigned from that post on March 31.

Betts said “I guess I am” when asked who was in charge of regaining control of the jail.

A city spokesperson, however, said the Deputy Public Safety Director Charlene Deeken is in charge, along with Mayor Lyda Krewson.

Shortly after 10:30 p.m., more than an hour after the uprising began, sheriff’s deputies entered the jail and the situation became seemingly more under control.

However, a short time later, detainees began breaking windows again, this time on the other side of the justice center.

A large crowd began forming outside the justice center, many saying they are friends or family of inmates.

The incident comes two months after a similar disturbance. In that incident, city officials say detainees were able manipulate locks.

Detainees have complained for decades about conditions inside St. Louis’ jails, but when COVID-19 worries were added to the mix, the tension reached breaking point.

In the predawn hours of Feb. 6, 117 inmates at the downtown City Justice Center broke free from their cells.

They smashed windows, set fires and tossed chairs, a filing cabinet and other items through the broken glass onto the street four stories below.

A corrections officer was briefly hospitalized.

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