Charges filed on 61 youths for Polk riot

Charges filed on 61 youths for Polk riot

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Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said he will announce charges Friday on 61 juveniles involved in a riot at the Department of Juvenile Justice's Avon Park Youth Academy.

The Sheriff's Office said the charges filed include Riot, Felony Criminal Mischief, Burglary, Arson, and Grand Theft. 

Several teens were injured in that riot on Aug. 17. Numerous police agencies responded to the facility, along with the Polk County Sheriff's Office, FHP, FWC, Avon Park Police, and the Highlands County Sheriff's Office. Polk deputies also brought in their SWAT and K-9 teams, along with their helicopter.

Authorities say they evacuated all the staff at the compound first and then secured all of the juveniles in flex cuffs to escort them out of the riot area. A total of seven juveniles were transported to Florida Hospital in Sebring with injuries ranging from a broken leg to bruises, lower back pain, lacerations and a concussion.

The riot started after a fight broke out between two groups of teens playing basketball. A group of five teens from St. Petersburg was playing against a group of five teens from Orlando. The wager for the game was three noodle soup containers. When the group from St. Pete lost, they refused to pay the other team and that's when the fight broke out. Officials say other teens, who were not playing basketball, joined in the fight.

Officials say the teens took a staff radio and staff golf carts during the riot.

"I watched them break windows," said Sheriff Judd. "I watched them gather up on golf carts and ride around and scream and holler at law enforcement. But interestingly enough, when it came time to take them into custody, they were peaceful with us; 64 of the juveniles were transported to the South County Jail in Frostproof. The remaining 73 juveniles were secured at the Avon Park Youth Academy."

Friday's press conference is scheduled to start at 11 a.m.

Check back with WFLA.com for updates on this developing story.

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