PARKERSBURG - An incident at a Parkersburg juvenile facility where thousands of dollars of destruction was done was caused by six youth "throwing a temper tantrum," a spokesman for the West Virginia State Police said on Thursday.
The incident occurred Tuesday evening at the Lorrie Yeager Jr. Juvenile Center on Mission Drive and involved six of the 20 kids in the facility, Lt. Michael Baylous of the State Police said.
The preliminary investigation indicates the six involved, four boys and two girls, were upset with a disciplinary action and "decided they would throw a temper tantrum," Baylous said.
A report of a guard being stabbed was unsubstantiated and the only injury was a guard who tripped over a table and sprained his ankle, according to Baylous. The incident happened in the commons area, he said.
"No one was stabbed," Baylous said.
The guards' first response was to move the 14 kids not involved in the destruction to safety, he said.
However, the preliminary investigation indicates the six kids were not going to harm anyone, although other revelations could arise as the investigation proceeds, Baylous said.
"There doesn't appear to be any intention to hurt anyone," he said.
Baylous would not disclose what the disciplinary action involved. Video cameras captured part of the incident, he said.
He did not call the incident a riot, but said thousands of dollars of damage was done. Part of the damage was from water from a broken spigot, he said.
Three of the six kids involved have been transferred to other facilities, he said. Charges have yet to be lodged, Baylous said.
"We'll collect evidence. We'll do the interviews. We'll do the report," he said. "And then we'll see if there's an appropriate charge."
Wood County Prosecutor Jason Wharton said he and some of his staff who handle juvenile court cases visited the center Thursday morning as part of the ongoing investigation.
"We are assisting the state police, we did a walk-through with them, and I felt it was important to get into the facility fairly quickly, the room where it happened. Anytime you are trying to relay the events to a court or jury, it's helpful to see the actual location," he said.
"We were told a staff member at the facility injured an ankle during the time frame of the incident. We have not had a chance yet to speak to that specific staff member. The state police are conducting the investigation and they are taking staff statements from those who were present at the incident, as well as any of the juveniles who may have been present but were not involved in the incident and also attempt to interview some of the juveniles who actually participated in it," he said.
"There were no serious injuries to any of the juveniles," Wharton said. "I was informed there may have also been some other minor injuries to other staff members."
The prosecutor said the Parkersburg Police Department responded to the incident Tuesday night because it was dispatched by the 911 center after calls for assistance were received.
"They were there in case they were needed; it's my understanding the staff at the facility were the ones who actually regained control," he said. "There was no danger to the public at any point," Wharton said.
A nursing home, a church and a number of residences and other buildings are in the Mission Drive neighborhood near the facility. The property where the facility is located was owned by Wood County until 1999 when it was conveyed to The West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, State Bureau of Commerce, Division of Public Lands Corporation, which handles properties for the Bureau of Military Affairs and Public Safety and for the West Virginia Division of Juvenile Services.
Wharton said the incident was contained to only the commons area of the detention center.
He declined comment on specifics relating to the incident. The prosecutor said he was told most of the incident was caught on videotape.
Wharton said youth from all over the state, including Wood County, are sent to that facility.
"Based upon the information I have at this time, none of the juveniles involved were those committed from Wood County," he said.
In West Virginia, the courts are required to use the least-restrictive alternative and provide rehabilitation, the prosecutor said.
"This is as secure as it gets for a juvenile facility," Wharton said of the Lorrie Yeager Jr. Juvenile Center.
The center is a 24-bed, coed, secure juvenile detention center. It is at 907 Mission Drive.
The center is for youth charged with a crime that would be punishable by incarceration if committed by an adult; it is not a facility for status offenses like truancy.
The facility is considered a secure facility; the inmates have a highly structured schedule. The facility includes a fenced-in recreation area.
The youth housed there are assessed and provided with counseling, case management services, medical and psychiatric services if needed, and a therapeutic recreation program is part of the treatment process.
Academic services are offered, including the ability to earn a GED.