COLUMBIA, S.C. April 9 2017 — Four inmates were found dead Friday morning in a dorm at one of South Carolina's maximum-security men's prisons, authorities said.
The inmates were found at Kirkland Correctional Institution in the capital city of Columbia, Department of Corrections Director Bryan Stirling told The Associated Press.
Stirling did not say how they died or release any further information.
Stirling said he asked the State Law Enforcement Division to assist Corrections police with their investigation. Coroner Gary Watts confirmed he was investigating four deaths at the facility, but wouldn't give any details about how the inmates died.
Kirkland operates a specialized housing unit for the state's most dangerous inmates, an assessment and evaluation center for new inmates sentenced to more than three months, and a 24-bed infirmary, according to the Corrections website.
The prison has been the scene of previous violence. In 2015, two inmates held two nurses hostage with homemade knives for seven hours after forcing their way into a nursing station where prescription drugs were kept. One nurse's throat was cut, but she survived.
Last year, three corrections officers at Kirkland were fired after officials said they tried to kill an inmate in their care. Authorities said the officers, who were charged with attempted murder and misconduct in office, stabbed an inmate while he was handcuffed. Their cases are still pending.
UPDATE: The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) charged two inmates at the Kirkland Correctional Institute in Columbia with the deaths of four inmates found in a dorm Friday morning.
Denver Simmons, 35, and Jacob Phillip, 25, were each charged with four counts of murder. Both men were already serving life sentences for previous murders.
Arrest warrants say Simmons and Phillip confessed to luring the men into a cell and then assaulting and strangling them with an electrical cord and their hands.