One officer was injured and several windows were broken during a riot Monday night outside of the Allegheny County Jail and Pittsburgh Municipal Court building.
Officials said jail staff called 911 around 7:45 p.m. to report a group of about 20-25 rioters outside the jail throwing rocks, sticks and firing fireworks. Rioters were wearing all black with black masks. One person from the group was carrying a drum. Others had sticks and metal pipes that they were banging together, police said.
A bicycle officer got into a scuffle with a man, later identified as Tyler Kobel. The officer and Kobel fell to the ground. When the officer pulled out his Taser, Kobel stopped resisting and was taken into custody, police said.
The officer suffered a shoulder injury and was checked by paramedics.
Another man, identified as James Griffin, allegedly charged at a second bicycle officer. A third officer intervened and helped to take Griffin into custody, police said.
As rioters ran from the scene, police say they broke side mirrors of vehicles and the mechanical arm of a gate to a driveway. An Allegheny County Sheriff's vehicle and another vehicle had rear windows broken.
Police say the group is called the Allegheny County Health Justice Project. A representative from the group says they were protesting for inmates who are not receiving proper medical care.
They claimed inmates were having a sit-in at the same time. But newly-released inmates told Channel 11 on Tuesday there were no protests they were aware of inside the jail.
However, a spokesperson for the group told Channel 11's Steven Fisher, "I cannot deny or confirm if anyone from our group was a part of the protest, but we did not organize it.”
Arrested were: Tyler James Kobel, 25, of Altoona; James Patrick Griffin, 25, of Allison Park; Blanca Chaves-Alvarez, 29, of Lawrenceville; Nicholas Baynes Hodgson, 36, homeless; Anthony Michael Ambroso, 26, of Upper St. Clair; Liam Scott Swanson, 25, of Squirrel Hill; Thomas B. Stiller, Jr., 26, of South Side; Joshua Shande Szymanski, 22, Point Breeze; Ian Matthew Greynolds, 22, of Bloomfield; Raina Christine Legrand, 23, of Garfield; and Morgan Lindsey Prescott, 22, of York, PA.
They face charges including disorderly conduct, possessing instruments of crime, causing/risking a catastrophe, criminal conspiracy, criminal mischief, institutional vandalism, aggravated assault, possessing a small amount of marijuana, possessing prohibited offensive weapons and resisting arrest.
Police said some of the rioters were carrying knives, drugs and weapons such as brass knuckles. According to police, Griffin had mace, marijuana and a gun, though the gun was legally owned.
Warden Orlando Harper released the following statement about the incident:
“Earlier this evening, a group of protesters downtown began setting off fireworks and throwing rocks at the County Jail and the Municipal Court Building. Their actions resulted in several non-security windows being broken at the Jail as well of several car windows being smashed at the Municipal Court Building.
“We thank the Pittsburgh Police for its quick response to the calls to County 9-1-1. At this time, we understand that there are 11 people in custody and that Pittsburgh Police will be making determinations regarding charges against those individuals.
“Contrary to reports made by the group that has been organizing the protests over the last few days, there are no sit-ins or protests going on inside the jail, nor have there been. Tonight’s incident has not impacted operations at all. The facility remains secure and safe for all inmates and employees.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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