DANDRIDGE, Tenn. (WATE) – Police were called to scenes of disruption and chaos last week through the weekend at Mountain View Academy for Young Men on reports of assault, noncompliance, escape attempts and an active riot involving juvenile inmates.
Dandridge police reports obtained by WATE 6 On Your Side reveal the details of multiple calls for service from Halloween Thursday through Sunday at Mountain View Academy for Young Men; a total of four calls all taking place in the evening and night hours.
Neighbors also say they’re worried after the recent events.
According to the preliminary investigation reports released by Dandridge Police Department, the incidents stemmed from the alleged actions of youth inmates at the detention facility, located at 809 Peal Lane.
On Thursday, Oct. 31 just after 7 p.m., Dandridge police officers were called to the youth detention facility on a report of an assault in progress. When officers arrived, they were told multiple guards at the facility were being assaulted by 15 male inmates in one unit. Officers reported seeing several guards with wounds on their heads and faces, as well as “a somewhat chaotic scene with approximately 15 inmates roaming freely in the unit.”
Officers secured the unit and put them on lockdown. A fight reportedly broke out in another unit of the facility, so officers also responded to that incident; finding a “very hostile” inmate being escorted out and making threats toward officers. The male was put into his cell and after the door was shut, he began to kick it – until “the door violently came open.” The inmate exited his cell, when he was tazed and restrained by Dandridge police after refusing to get to the ground and “posed a great risk to both (himself) and officers.”
After getting the inmate checked out medically and securing the unit, officers left.
On Saturday, Nov. 2 just after 8 p.m., Dandridge police officers were called to the youth detention facility on a report of noncompliance in that two inmates were refusing to “go up.” Staff at the youth facility requested that officers drive around the inside perimeter in hopes the inmates would go up. When officers arrived, the inmates began cursing at them and when officers entered the courtyard, they reported seeing corrections staff “in a physical struggle” with an inmate, so officers assisted staff with restraining the juvenile while also physically restraining the second inmate. After placing the juvenile inmates back into their unit, officers secured the unit and left.
On Sunday, Nov. 3 just before 7 p.m. Dandrige police officers were called to the youth detention facility on a report of four escaped inmates who had left the inner fence of one of the units. When officers arrived and set up a perimeter and began their search, they were advised the four juvenile inmates had returned to their unit. Officers were then asked to help staff secure the unite by locking inmates in their cells “because they were ‘out of control.'”
Fifteen law enforcement officers entered the unit and began securing it, with several inmates being escorted to their cells. Officers reported seeing food throughout the unit; they were told by staff the inmates had been unhappy with the food and began throwing it to the ground. The director of Mountain View Academy for Young Men, was advised by his supervisors to go to McDonald’s and buy 50 cheeseburgers and fries for the inmates “to satisfy them,” the report states, “which did not work.” Once the inmates were all secured in their cells, officers left.
But later on Sunday, Nov. 3 just after 9 p.m. Dandridge police were once again called to the youth detention facility – this time, on a report of an active riot and fire in one of the facility’s units.
Arriving officers were told several inmates had escaped the interior fence of the unit in question and officers reported seeing several inmates at the exterior fence of the facility, trying to escape. Once the inmates saw police, they ran back into the fenced area of the unit.
Officers entered the unit and reported seeing 23 inmates from the unit outside of the building. The inmates began throwing rocks and other objects at officers.
“The scene was chaotic, intense, and rapidly evolving,” the report states.
Alarms began sounding at the facility with water and smoke coming from the building. Officers waited on additional law enforcement to assist, and once that back-up arrived, they lined the inmates up the wall and were escorted to another unit, since the first unit in question was flooded and had fire extinguisher residue throughout.
Evidence at the scene indicated multiple fires were set inside that unit, according to police, and surveillance video revealed that one juvenile inmate had used a lighter to light toilet paper on fire and tossed it through his cell door feeding hole.
That inmate was arrested and taken to Dandridge police headquarters, then transferred to the Jefferson County Justice Center.
TrueCore, the company that runs the Mountain View Academy for Young Men, released the following statement on Monday, Nov. 4 regarding the incidents:
“Recent incidents at Mountain View Academy for Young Men in Dandridge have proven challenging as TrueCore Behavioral Solutions provides services to at-risk youth to assist in their development. 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.”TrueCore
The facility, formerly known as Mountain View Youth Development Center, is a residential program designated for adolescent males, ages 13-18 and has 84 beds.
TrueCore Behavioral Solutions states on its website it is a national provider of behavioral health services to at-risk and adjudicated youth through residential treatment facilities and community-based programs.
Nearby neighbors are expressing concern over the recent incidents.
“I stress about my mom and dad because of that all the time. They are right here, that’s dangerous. You’re talking young kids and elderly folks,” said Scheryl Fullenwider, who lives nearby. “They need to do something, something needs to change.”
For Fullenwider, the news is scary and hits too close for comfort.
“My mom and dad are here, and they’re elderly. My dad is blind and he can’t walk. My mother has got breathing issues. There’s no way they could defend themselves. It’s just scary,” she said.