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Youth incident at Indian River concludes

COLUMBUS – This afternoon, Ohio Department of Youth Services (DYS) Director Amy Ast joined Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (ODRC) Director Annette Chambers-Smith and authorities from the Ohio State Highway Patrol to provide updated information on Saturday’s situation at the Indian River Juvenile Correctional Facility in Stark County.  

At approximately 12:45 p.m., after taking possession of keys from a youth specialist in his housing unit, an incarcerated juvenile began unlocking doors to other teens’ rooms in the facility. In total, 12 young offenders, ages 15-19, exited their rooms and ran to the nearby school building on the Indian River campus. These 12 teens were serving sentences on adjudications for serious charges including but not limited to felonious assault, kidnapping, aggravated robbery, aggravated riot, and gun specifications. 

Members of the ODRC special response team were deployed to communicate with the teens and ensure their safe return to custody. During discussions, the youth indicated they were armed with makeshift weapons created from items inside the school, as well as tools from the construction-trade vocational classroom. 

ODRC responders entered the building after the 12 teens declined to voluntarily exit the facility. Pepper spray was deployed, and all youth were back in custody shortly after midnight. The teens underwent decontamination and were given medical evaluations. Neither the youth nor special response team members suffered injuries. Damage to the interior of the building is being assessed.  

The incident is under investigation by the Ohio State Highway Patrol, and all 12 suspects are expected to face new charges.  

Six of the juveniles remain in custody at Indian River and six teens are in the custody of the Stark County Jail. At no time were members of the public in danger. Authorities from the Stark County Sheriff’s Office, Jackson Township Police Department, Massillon Police Department, and Canton Regional Special Operations Team assisted on site. 

Indian River is currently operating at full staff with support from ODRC’s special response team, which will remain on campus to assist with staffing and security. 

To support staff members and provide an additional layer of security, Director Ast also announced the following: 

  • DYS plans to enter into an agreement with ODRC to supply youth specialists working in Indian River’s housing units with body cameras. 
  • DYS will offer pay supplements to youth specialists/corrections officers who work in the Indian River housing units through the end of the year. 

For media inquiries, please email DYS Communications Chief Tony Gottschlich at Tony.Gottschlich@dys.ohio.gov.

Follow us online at www.dys.ohio.gov and on social media!

About DYS

The Ohio Department of Youth Services is the juvenile corrections system for the state of Ohio. DYS is statutorily mandated to confine felony offenders, ages 10 to 21, who have been adjudicated and committed by one of Ohio’s 88 county juvenile courts. During their stay with DYS, youth are engaged in programming that is designed to address their criminological and behavioral needs. Each of DYS’s three facilities also operates a year-round school that offers general curriculum and vocation opportunities. Our mission is to improve Ohio's future by habilitating youth and empowering families and communities. Our vision is a safer Ohio – one youth, one family, one community at a time.

Below: Indian River Juvenile Correctional Facility, Massillon, Ohio