Cup of noodles blamed in detention center riot; 911 calls released

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POLK COUNTY, Fla. - A bet over a cup of soup turned into a full-blown riot at a male juvenile detention center in Polk County on Saturday.

According to officials, the incident began with a bet over a basketball game at the Avon Park Youth Academy.

There, a group of juveniles from Orlando were playing against a group of juveniles from St. Petersburg for three Cup Noodles soups, authorities said.

Investigators said the losing team, the group from St. Pete, refused to give the other team the soups and a fight broke out between the juveniles, which then led to the riot.

"It went from a large fight to a riot," said Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd.  "Less than $1 worth of noodles, we ended up with a riot."

On Monday, authorities released 911 calls made during the riot.

"We have a riot situation here at the facility and we need some assistance," one caller said.

The Polk County Sheriff's Office responded about 8:30 p.m., along with SWAT and K-9 teams.

During the riot, deputies said the juveniles trashed 18 of 20 buildings, causing $100,000 in damage. Officials said all of the golf carts on the premises were taken over by the juveniles and that the teens also set fire to a dumpster and one office building that housed juvenile records.

Law enforcement officers were eventually able to get the situation under control and detain the rioters around midnight. Deputies said five or six youths were transported to the hospital for minor injuries, one with a broken leg.

No staffers were injured during the riot, according to officials.

"When it came time to take them into custody, they were peaceful," said Judd.

The facility is operated by the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice and is run on-site by a company called G4S.

Judd said those staffers were overwhelmed and forced to retreat because they're not armed with any form of weapons, including pepper spray.

"Some want to be critical of G4S. They tried really hard," said Judd.

Instead, Judd is critical of the DJJ for not giving them tools or training for an event like the riot.

"We saw them climbing on roofs," said Judd. "They started a fire in an office building, burning what appears to be state records."

In all, 138 kids were taken into custody by 150 law enforcement members from seven agencies.

In the end, Judd said it's the taxpayers who lost.

"They all will receive a bill for this," he said.

Judd said he plans to file felony charges against all of those responsible for the riot.

According to its website, the facility is a 144-bed moderate-risk program for males in the juvenile justice system between the ages of 16 and 19 years old. Teens are taught job skills and receive mental health and substance abuse treatment.