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Brief Mutiny In Texas Prison

Dozens of inmates in a Texas state prison were briefly sprung from their maximum-security cells Monday morning, taking control of their "pod" for almost four hours.

The incident was caused by a single inmate who somehow made his way into the control room, cutting a guard and taking control of the system. The inmate then opened all of the doors in the pod, allowing dozens of inmates to roam freely within the confines of the pod for several hours.

Three prison guards, outnumbered by the inmates, exited the area as the disturbance began shortly after 3 a.m., a prison official told Monday.

The disturbance "was not coordinated," Glen Castlebury, spokesman for the Texas Department of Corrections, told this morning.

Nevertheless, Castlebury described the disturbance, which took place at the McConnell Unit, a state prison with 3,000 inmates near Beeville, as major.

"I have never seen 80-plus inmates involved in an incident such as this," Castlebury said.

Prison riot teams moved in about 5 a.m. with tear gas and batons, Castlebury said. By 7 a.m. prison officials had the unit under control.

One guard was taken to a local hospital with cuts on his hands.

"I'm told unofficially there are were no further injuries to inmates or staff," Castlebury said Monday. "We are very fortunate that we could take the pod back so quickly."

Last week, a prison guard was stabbed to death in another of the prison's buildings. Castlebury described the prison as "tense," but said investigators have not made any positive connection between Monday's disturbance and last week's stabbing death of prison guard Daniel Nagle - the first deadly attack on a Texas corrections officer in 17 years.

"You've got to assume that the unit is tense," Castlebury said.

All of the inmates involved in the breach will be dispersed to other prisons in the state, Castlebury said today. The unidentified inmate who assaulted the guard and generated the disturbance will be charged, he said.