Liberty police: ‘Planned’ riot breaks out at Belmont Pines Hospital, 8 face charges

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Police believe the whole ordeal was a preplanned attempt to break out

LIBERTY TWP., Ohio (WKBN) – Eight girls ages 12 to 17 are facing charges, accused of starting a riot in an effort to escape a behavioral health facility in Liberty Township.

Friday evening, a residential unit at Belmont Pines Hospital, where children are placed for “complex behavioral health treatment,” became the scene of chaos.

Dispatcher: “911, where is your emergency?”
Caller: “Belmont Pines Hospital.”
Dispatcher: “Alright. What’s going on there?”
Caller: “We have a riot over here on the girls’ residential unit. We need all available help please.”

Police from five nearby agencies responded to assist Liberty.

Investigators say at least one girl was armed with a shank and tried to stab an employee. Others tried fighting with police in an effort to get past officers.

Police believe the whole ordeal was a preplanned attempt to break out since the girls also used soapy water and lotion throughout the floor.

“Probably in an attempt to slow down their responding employees and officers. Luckily, that wasn’t as successful as they hoped and we were quickly able to end this incident,” said Liberty Police Capt. Ray Buhala.

So far, eight girls have been charged in connection to Friday night’s riot.

Police say their investigation continues and additional charges against more girls could be coming.

Liberty police officers are familiar with the facility. They say they’ve received numerous calls there due to the type of patients they house.

“This one’s a little bit more troubling because it seemed to be preplanned. Weapons were fashioned out of items that they found throughout their floor and there were so many of them involved,” Buhala said.

Hospital CEO Lisa Cocca released the following statement about the incident:

We are reviewing the incident to see if we need to make any changes. Our facility continually reviews incidents and processes to improve as part of our overall performance improvement plan. Our goal is always to look toward better patient outcomes and maintain safety and security.

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