A violent brawl between multiple Black and white inmates ended with a Black man stabbed to death and five other inmates in the hospital Sunday at the nation’s largest federal prison complex.
Troi Venable, 39, was serving a 17-year term at the United States Penitentiary at Coleman for assault and gun possession by a felon when he was killed in the fight, according to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons.
It broke out at about 11:45 a.m. at the prison in Coleman, Florida, which is about 50 miles northwest of Orlando.
Venable, of New Jersey, was also convicted of using “improvised weapons” to assault a fellow inmate in 2014 at the United States Penitentiary in Lewisburg, Penn.
Venable had been at the Florida facility since Dec. 19, 2017 when the recent fight broke out.
It’s unclear what caused it, but Joe Rojas, local chief of the prison workers union, said Venable was killed with a homemade knife after a brewing battle between Black and white inmates, according to USA Today.
The U.S. Bureau of Prisons has not yet confirmed Rojas’ account.
Rojas blamed the prison warden for the incident in a Facebook post Sunday.
“Roy Carnell Cheathem is responsible,” Rojas said in the post. “We have a Lack of institutional control all due to this Warden.”
The Coleman prison, a high-security facility in a cluster of federal prisons west of Orlando, was placed on lockdown Sunday after the brawl and prisoners were confined to their cells, Rojas told reporters.
As of Tuesday afternoon, visiting was still suspended at the facility and it was on a limited operational status.
The prison, which has 1,323 inmates, attracted criticism last year when gang leader James “Whitey” Bulger was murdered a day after he was transferred from Florida to a West Virginia facility.
Rojas also critiqued the federal prison system earlier this month for awarding $1.6 million in bonuses to its top executives and wardens over the last two years.
Cheatham received a $20,399 bonus during the most recent round of funding in 2017-2018, USA Today reported.
“How can you justify these bonus payments when we don’t even have enough people to staff the place?” Rojas told the news outlet. “There is no way to justify this.”
An undisclosed number of inmates were also treated for minor injuries in the recent incident, according to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation was notified of the incident.