More than 60 teens face charges as adults after riot

Updated:

POLK COUNTY, Fla. - More than 60 teenagers are facing charges for the damage they caused during a riot at a detention center last month in Polk County.

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said the teens will be charged as adults, after 130 of them overran the staff at the Avon Park Youth Academy after an argument involving a cup of noodles.

Anthony Smith, 16, from Osceola County, Devonte Powell, 17, from Orange County, and Henry Johnson, 16, from Seminole County, are just three of the 61 teens now charged with felonies for the takeover at the facility, where they were being held.

"There's a difference between a child who's made a stupid mistake and violated the law and those under the age of 18 that are hard-core thugs," said Judd.

And these 61, according to Judd, are not the ones who just made a mistake.

Investigators have identified them as the teens who caused the most chaos during the riot last month.

More than 130 were involved as they threw furniture through windows, and even started fires in buildings.

The unarmed facility employees, with the private contractor G4S, did not stand a chance, so they called deputies.

"G4S had no tools to deal with the out-of-control [juvenile] thug," said Judd.

Investigators said the riot started after a game of basketball when the losing team did not pay up what they owed -- ramen noodles.

Now the teenagers face two felonies each, on top of the 900-plus combined charges already on their records. The youngest is 16 years old.

Department of Juvenile Justice policies do not allow its staff to carry anything to control inmates, not even pepper spray.  And Eyewitness News was told they are not trained to deal with riots.

So when things got out of hand, they had no choice but to call in the sheriff's office.

"There was no staff in control of anything when we arrived," said Judd.

A Department of Juvenile Justice spokesperson told Eyewitness News that changes are likely.

Security cameras will be installed, and G4S has already added more staff.

However, the department will not reconsider allowing staff to carry pepper spray or anything similar, a decision Judd strongly opposes.

In all, there was about $100,000 in damage caused by the riot.

Judd said he plans to bill the Department of Juvenile Justice for the manpower his office put in that night, which is estimated at about $30,000 to $40,000.