Juveniles transferred, locked down after melee at Milledgeville YDC

MILLEDGEVILLE — A group of juveniles housed at a youth development campus in Milledgeville took over a building and kept employees from leaving Tuesday afternoon, authorities said.

A few boys rushed a juvenile corrections officer and took his keys about 3:30 p.m., said Steve Hayes, a state Department of Juvenile Justice spokesman. The officer was not injured.

The boys then used the keys to let other boys out of their rooms in the facility.

Although a group of boys left the building, they returned on their own without crossing the secure fence at the Bill E. Ireland Youth Development Campus. No one escaped, Hayes said.

He said 29 boys were inside the housing unit, but he could not say how many were involved in the melee. He estimated their ages to be between 14 and 17.

Baldwin County Sheriff Bill Massee described the building as “dormitory” style and similar to a residential setting.

Massee said that many “people say these are students in here. I’m going to tell you right now, if they are housed here, they have committed a large number of crimes or they wouldn’t be here.”

He said the “disturbance” lasted between 45 minutes to an hour as the juveniles damaged the inside of the building. Hayes said windows were broken.

The sheriff’s office, Milledgeville police, the GBI, the Georgia State Patrol and state Department of Corrections responded to the call, Massee said. Law enforcement officers “tazed” two of the juveniles while bringing order to the situation, Massee said.

Hayes said none of the boys was injured.

Massee said 19 boys will be transferred to a youth development campus in Eastman and about another 14 to 15 will be locked down at the Ireland YDC, located on North Glynn Street.

Five 17-year-olds will be housed at the Baldwin County jail as adults, Massee said.

Some of the juveniles will be charged with inciting a riot, while a few will be charged with aggravated assault because an employee was injured, he said.

A bus left the YDC about 6:15 p.m. bound for Eastman with several boys on board.

As the bus left, a Department of Juvenile Justice employee waved and said “I hope you enjoy Eastman.”

The Ireland YDC facility can hold 300 boys, according to the department.

Photographer Grant Blankenship contributed to this report. To contact writer Amy Leigh Womack, call 744-4398.