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Hostage standoff disables JoCo Juvenile Justice Center

Youths incarcerated at the Josephine County Juvenile Justice Center were moved to regional facilities — including two youths to Jackson County — after a standoff that resulted in thousands of dollars worth of damage to the Grants Pass facility and at one point involved a hostage.

Three juveniles were arrested on new charges, and the Josephine County facility was rendered completely unusable after a Sunday night riot, according to a release issued Monday morning from Grants Pass police. The standoff drew resources including a crisis negotiations team, mental health professionals, the Josephine County Sheriff’s Office and every available unit of Grants Pass police including a Special Weapons and Tactics team.

An employee at the Juvenile Department first called police at 6:45 p.m. Sunday reporting that a male juvenile lodged in the detention facility at 301 NW F St. in Grants Pass had assaulted another juvenile in custody. Police say the alleged assailant, who was not named, refused commands to either get on the floor or return to his cell.

At least two other juveniles — a male and a female — joined the male in openly defying Juvenile Justice Center orders and began destroying a common area on the secured side of the facility. Five others were held inside their cells during the incident.

Police say that the defiant youths barricaded themselves by pushing items against the doors to prevent police from entering. The youths attempted to break glass so they could enter the facility’s control room as well as the cells of others who were not involved.

The youths were armed with makeshift weapons and refused to negotiate with crisis negotiators. At one point toward the end of the roughly two-hour standoff, two of the youths threatened the life of the third juvenile in custody by holding an edged makeshift weapon to the neck of the incarcerated youth.

The SWAT team was ultimately resolved the situation with pepper ball munitions and encouraged the kids to surrender. Police ultimately forced their way into the barricaded space and took the three youths into custody.

The only injury reported during the standoff stemmed from the assault that started the altercation.

Police say the facility sustained ‘‘several thousands of dollars in damage,“ and is currently ”completely unusable.“ Other detained youths are being moved to other facilities in the region.

As of early Monday morning, two youths from the Josephine County Juvenile Justice Center were held at the Jackson County Juvenile Justice Center in Medford, according to Jackson County community Justice Deputy Director Joe Ferguson.

He said both of the youth brought to Medford are being transferred later today, and that the Jackson County detention facility never reached its 20-bed maximum capacity.

“We had a couple extra beds even above that,” Ferguson said. “They made other arrangements.”

Reach web editor Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or nmorgan@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @MTwebeditor.