Local News

First youth charged in connection with youth academy riot

POLK COUNTY- Authorities investigating a Saturday night riot at the Avon Park Youth Academy that caused thousands of dollars worth of damage have charged the first youth with four felonies.
Charles Kenneth Smith, 17, has been charged with one count each of rioting, burglary, grand theft and introduction of a contraband into detention facility, according to a press release from the Polk County Sheriff's Office.
The riot reportedly broke out after a group of academy residents from the St. Petersburg area refused to honor a bet and give three packages of Ramen noodles after losing a basketball game to another group.
The two groups then started to engage in "physical combat," egged on by other residents despite several warnings from staff members , an affidavit states.
The fighting turned into rioting among other residents, the affidavit adds.
Smith was "actively" involved in the riot, according to authorities, and broke into the academy's medical building and stole prescription medication, which was found in his dorm room, the affidavit adds.
He also was found yelling "offensive language" into an radio belonging to a staff member and refused to stop, the affidavit adds. His voice can be heard in a second 911 call Saturday made to Polk County dispatchers, authorities said.
It took more than 50 law enforcement officers over three hours to get the situation completely under control, the affidavit states.
Since the riot, Smith had been housed in the vacant building of the Polk County Sheriff's Office's South County Jail, and now has been moved into a Department of Juvenile Justice facility in Pinellas County.
Smith has three prior felony charges, including resisting arrest with violence, possession of marijuana with intent to sell, possession of paraphernalia, and loitering/prowling. These charges were filed by the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office. He has no prior charges in Polk County.
"Our detectives will continue to conduct a thorough investigation and ensure that everyone who incited or took part in the riot is appropriately charged. Charles Smith is just the first of many we anticipate filing felony charges against," said Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd