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Riot at Fla. treatment center ends with 3 hurt, several juveniles arrested during escape attempt

“At least eight juveniles escaped after causing a major disturbance inside the facility and were seen roaming the nearby neighborhood,” the sheriff’s office reported


Photo/Martin County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page

By Mark Price
The Charlotte Observer

MARTIN COUNTY, Fla. — Three people were hurt and at least eight others escaped when a “riot” broke out at a residential treatment facility for youths with behavioral problems, the Martin County Sheriff’s Office said.

Details of the injuries were not released, but one of the three is a staff member at the center, officials said in a news release.

It happened around 9:30 p.m. Friday, Jan 20, at SandyPines Residential Treatment Center near Jupiter, about 90 miles north of Miami. The treatment center serves “children and adolescents struggling with behavioral (and) emotional” issues.

People in the surrounding neighborhoods were warned to lock their doors during the search for escapees.

“At least 8-juveniles escaped after causing a major disturbance inside. ... The juveniles (were) seen roaming the nearby neighborhood,” the sheriff’s office reported.

“Those who took part in this incident broke windows, destroyed furniture and engaged in a large fight before a group of juveniles broke out.”

The center was put on lockdown and the youths were captured by 12 a.m. Saturday, the sheriff’s office reported.

“Multiple juveniles have been charged with various crimes such as battery on a health care worker and resisting arrest,” officials said.

“Those individuals have been transported to juvenile detention center in Ft. Pierce.”

Investigators did not report what started the disturbance.

SandyPines Residential Treatment Center describes itself as “the largest secure residential treatment center for children and adolescents in the Southeast.” Patients are ages 5 through 17.

“The SandyPines experience is often the last alternative for our youth,” the center says. “Every effort is made to create a secure and supportive environment in which to build personal strengths and challenge destructive behaviors.”

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