DANDRIDGE, Tennessee — Dandridge Police were called out three times over three days to handle unruly teen inmates at the Mountain View Academy for Young Men in Jefferson County.
According to several incident reports, the first happened on Halloween Night, with police also called Saturday, Nov. 2, and Sunday, Nov. 3. More than 15 police officers responded to Mountain View on Sunday to deal with what records referred to as a chaotic, riotous scene.
The inmates erupted even after the director tried to placate them with an emergency trip to McDonald's, a report shows.
TrueCore Behavioral Solutions, which operates the center, issued a statement Monday.
"Recent incidents at Mountain View...have proven challenging as TrueCore Behavioral Solutions provides services to at-risk youth to assist in their development," the statement reads. "Several youth are now facing additional charges resulting from their disruptive behavior. We appreciate the assistance provided by local law enforcement. We are thoroughly reviewing the facts of these incidents and will work with the Tennessee Department of Children's Services to make any needed adjustments going forward.
"The safety of the youth and staff at our facilities and the public are our top priorities."
Dandridge Mayor George Gantte said crimes like these don't represent the town as a whole.
"It's coming from an institution inside the city limits, but it's not citizens causing these records to go up and that's not fair to the citizens of Dandridge," Gantte explained.
On Oct. 31, officers were dispatched just after 7 p.m. to the residential treatment facility for troubled teenage boys because "multiple guards were being assaulted by approximately 15 male inmates," according to the report.
Officers reported that several guards had wounds to their heads and faces and described it as a "somewhat chaotic scene" with inmates roaming freely in their unit.
The officers got those inmates locked back in their cells, then were sent to another unit where another inmate was refusing to go into his cell.
In his report, the officer said the inmate was being hostile, "cursing and making threats" as he was returned to his cell, but at one point managed to kick the door open.
The inmate "assumed a fighting stance" with "both fists clinched" and refused to obey orders to get on the ground.
The officer finally drew his taser and decided to deploy it on the inmate because the "situation was intense, uncertain, and rapidly evolving." He wrote that due to the confined space, he believed that any attempt to physically restrain him would pose a greater risk to the inmate and the officers.
The inmate fell back onto his bed after he was tased, and officers were able to handcuff him. He wasn't injured.
The officer said that during a later interview, the inmate said he wouldn't listen because he didn't believe officers would use any type of force on him.
The second incident happened on the evening of Nov. 2.
According to a police report, two inmates were refusing to be "put up."
When officers arrived shortly after 8 p.m., they saw the unidentified boys in a courtyard running from corrections staff. They began cursing at the police.
Police saw staff struggling physically with one of the inmates.
"Officers then assisted the staff in detaining the male and placing him back into the Alpha Unit," a report states. "The second inmate was also physically restrained by corrections staff and placed into the Alpha Unit. Officers secured the unit and returned to service."
Circumstances grew more serious the following day, according to two Dandridge police reports.
A few minutes after 7 p.m., multiple officers were dispatched to address reports of a riot, a fire and the escape of four inmates from the inner fence at Mountain View, reports show.
Officers saw several inmates at an exterior fence trying to get out. But when the young men saw the police, "they ran back into the fenced-in area of the Charlie Unit," a report states.
Inside Charlie Unit's fenced-in area, police saw about 23 inmates outside. Several threw rocks and other objects at police.
"The scene was chaotic, intense, and rapidly evolving. Alarms were sounding from the building, with water and the odor of smoke emitting from inside the building," the report states.
Those officers on the scene waited until reinforcements arrived. The inmates were then lined up and marched back into confinement in the Bravo Unit. Each cell and inmate was searched before he was returned.
Officers found flooding in the Charlie Unit. Someone had set "multiple fires" in Charlie Unit. Fire extinguisher residue was found in multiple cells.
Surveillance video shows that at about 7:03 p.m., one of the inmates set fire with a lighter to a roll of toilet paper and tossed it through the feeding hole of his cell door.
"At the time, the unit was occupied by 22 other inmates as well as several correctional officers," the report states. "The sprinkler system was then set off inside the unit. Correctional staff was then forced to unlock the cell doors and take the inmates out of the building."
The young man who set the fire was arrested and taken to the county justice center.
As they walked through Charlie Unit, officers saw food lying throughout the unit on the floor.
Inmates apparently had been unhappy with the night's dinner offering and began throwing it, according to a report.
"The director of the facility stated he was then advised by his supervisors to go to McDonald's and purchase approximately 50 cheeseburgers and fries for the inmates to satisfy them, which did not work."
Police cleared the scene a few minutes after 11 p.m.