(CBS) — Two inmates are missing from a State Penitentiary in Mississippi amid a week of riots at the state’s prisons. The Mississippi Department of Corrections said in a Facebook post that the men, David May, 42, and Dillion Williams, 27, were discovered missing during an emergency count at about 1:45 a.m. on Saturday.
The department did not share why the emergency count was called, but the prison, known as Parchman Prison, has had three violent deaths in the past week.
Parchman is the state’s oldest institution, opening in 1901, the facility covers approximately 18,000 acres of farmland, according to the Mississippi Department of Corrections website. The prison has 3,560 beds, and houses only male offenders who are classified as protective custody, administrative segregation and administrative long-term segregation, or death row.
May is serving a life sentence for two aggravated assault convictions, and Williams is serving 40 years for residential burglary and aggravated assault, according to the department of corrections. Both men are black, of medium build with brown eyes and black hair.
The Mississippi Department of Correction’s K9 and emergency response team are searching for the men, along with assistance from state and local law enforcement. Anyone with information on their whereabouts is asked to contact the department of corrections at 662-745-6611, or the nearest law enforcement agency.
Parchman’s deaths are three of five total inside the state’s institutions during a rash of violence this past week that is believed to be gang-related.
Guards have been struggling to maintain control of restive inmates since violence erupted Sunday with a stabbing at South Mississippi Correctional Institute in Leakesville. Denorris Howell, 36, became the fifth to die on Friday. Howell was found before 3 a.m. in his cell at Parchman, covered in blood with a neck wound.
Before Howell, Terrandance Dobbins, 40, was killed Sunday in Leakesville. Walter Gates, 25, was stabbed and several other inmates were injured Tuesday at Parchman during a fight that spread to multiple units of the sprawling prison. Then on Thursday, Gregory Emary, 26, was killed at the Chickasaw County Regional Correctional Facility, a county-run jail that holds state inmates. Also Thursday, 32-year-old Roosevelt Holliman was fatally stabbed at Parchman in a fracas that led to multiple injuries.
All state prisons statewide remained locked down Friday, confining inmates to cells and blocking visitors. As of Friday, state corrections officials have refused so far to say how many people overall have been injured in the riots.
“These are trying times for the Mississippi Department of Corrections,” Commissioner Pelicia Hall said in a statement Friday.