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Courts / Law

Juveniles Riot at Polk County Facility

Polk County Sheriff's Office

Juveniles incarcerated at a facility in unincorporated Polk County rioted Saturday evening, destroying 18 of the 20 buildings at the Avon Park Youth Academy. The Polk County Sheriff's Office is reporting rampaging youths caused hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of damage, and said that seven boys were taken to an area hospital with minor injuries, including a broken leg, lacerations and a concussion. None of the staff or any law enforcement officers were injured.

About 150 law enforcement officer responded to a 9-1-1 call from staff at the Youth Academy. Joining the Polk County Sheriff's Office were the Department of Corrections; Florida Fish and Wildlife; Florida Highway Patrol; Highlands County Sheriff's Office; Fire and EMS.

In a statement, public information officer Carrie Eleazer said the boys' injuries did not occur when they were being taken into custody. "All of the injuries sustained by the juveniles occurred when they were fighting with each other, when they were breaking glass, when they were throwing things, and when they were running into each other with golf carts," Eleazer said.

The juveniles took radios and golf carts from the staff.
The riot began after a basketball game between groups of youths from Orlando and St. Petersburg. The St. Petersburg group lost but refused to pay the Cup O'Noodle soup that had been agreed upon as payment, and a fight broke out between the teams. Other youths joined the fight, and the riot escalated.

An office building that contained the juveniles' records was set on fire, as was a dumpster.

The Avon Park Youth Academy housed 138 juvenile males, and all have been accounted for. The facility is administered by the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice and is staffed by personnel with G4S, a private contractor.

The PCSO said they expect to charge some of the youths with multiple felonies.

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