Five teens charged in melee at YDC

Five 17-year-olds involved in a riot at the Bill E. Ireland Youth Development Campus in Milledgeville have been charged with disorderly conduct and obstruction, according to the Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office.

Sheriff Bill Massee said felony charges will be filed against a number of the other male juveniles who took over a building at the YDC and kept employees from leaving Tuesday afternoon.

Steve Hayes, a state Department of Juvenile Justice spokesman, said an internal investigation is being conducted to determine how the melee began and to see if department protocols were followed.

“We will be reviewing and investigating the entire incident,” he said, adding it could be weeks before the investigation is complete.

School activities were canceled at Baldwin County public schools Tuesday after a school board employee heard about the riot on a police scanner, schools Superintendent Geneva Braziel said.

As a precaution, students involved in after-school activities were locked in classrooms until the activities were scheduled to end at 5:30 p.m., Braziel said.

The YDC operated as usual Wednesday with the exception that the youths were locked down in their rooms, Hayes said.

Tuesday’s melee began when a few youths rushed a juvenile corrections officer and took his keys about 3:30 p.m. The officer was taken to a local hospital for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries, Hayes said.

He said he didn’t know how many juveniles rushed the officer. They then used the keys to let other youths out of their rooms in the facility.

Hayes said 29 youths were inside the housing unit at the time of the melee. Typically, there are three juvenile corrections officers for that number of juveniles.

“It’s one per 10 youth,” he said.

Although a group of juveniles left the building, they returned on their own without crossing the secure fence at the facility. No one escaped, Hayes said.

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

Massee said the incident lasted between 45 minutes and 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 used a Taser on two of the juveniles while bringing order to the situation, Massee said.

Hayes said none of the youths was injured.

Some of them were transferred to a youth development campus in Eastman while others were locked down at the Ireland YDC, located on North Glynn Street in Milledgeville.

Information from The Telegraph’s archives was included in this report. To contact writer Amy Leigh Womack, call 744-4398.