Four inmates killed in less than 24 hours at California prisons

In a span of less than 24 hours, more California state prison inmates died as a result of murder than have died as a result of coronavirus since the onset of the pandemic. 

From Thursday afternoon through Friday morning, four inmates were murdered at California state prisons, with two of the killings occurring at a single facility in Kern County. Each of the victims were themselves convicted of either first or second-degree murder, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. 

At about 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, Kern Valley State Prison inmates Matthew Thornton and Michael Arzaga began attacking Robert Hargrave, 48, with an inmate-manufactured weapon. Correctional officers ordered the attackers to stop, but they did not comply. Guards used chemical agents to stop the assault. 

Hargrave suffered multiple stab wounds to his back, chest and abdomen. After initially being taken to the prison’s Triage and Treatment Area, Hargrave was transported to a hospital. Hargrave was pronounced dead at the hospital at 2:40 p.m.

At about 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, a correctional officer at the California Medical Facility in Solano County found a 75-year-old inmate unresponsive in his cell with multiple injuries to his head and face. The officer called for medical staff, which arrived and began performing life-saving measures on Tuc X. Tran. 

Tran was brought to the prison’s Triage and Treatment Area. Tran succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced dead by a prison doctor at 4:51 p.m.

At approximately 7:48 a.m. on Friday, Kern Valley State Prison inmates Charles Garibay, Rafael Navarro and Guillermo Navarro began attacking inmate Robert Beltran, 50, with a manufactured weapon as Beltran exited his cell. Guards ordered the attackers to stop, and when they did not comply, used chemical agents to put an end to the assault.

Beltran suffered multiple stab wounds to his head, back, chest and abdomen. Staffers brought Beltran to the Triage and Treatment Area, and then requested transportation to a hospital. Beltran was pronounced dead at the hospital at 9:46 a.m.

Also Friday morning, a 65-year-old inmate was killed at High Desert State Prison in Lassen County. At about 10:45 a.m., inmates Rodney Rice and Robert Smith attacked Michael Ramadanovic with manufactured weapons on the Facility C yard of the prison.

Guards used chemical agents and fired a warning shot from a Mini-14 rifle in order to quell the incident. Ramadanovic suffered multiple puncture wounds to his chest, back, head and neck. 

Responders transported Ramadanovic to the prison’s medical facility and performed life-saving measures. But, a doctor pronounced Ramadanovic dead at 11:11 a.m.

Prison officials moved at least some of the suspects in the killings to segregated housing as they face additional charges. Investigations into the homicides are ongoing.

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