Monterey County

Serious assault at Salinas Valley State Prison being investigated

Corrections officers fired shots to break up fight among inmates

SOLEDAD, Calif. - An assault on an inmate at Salinas Valley State Prison prompted a corrections officer to fire shots to break up the fight, leaving a convicted murderer with non life-threatening injuries.

Two inmates began attacking a third inmate around 10 a.m. Friday, causing the man to lose consciousness. Staff ordered the two assailants to stop the attack but the orders were ignored. An officer fired a warning shot but the attack continued. A second shot was fired, striking one of the suspects, Jose Espinoza.

Espinoza, 41, was struck in the hand. He was transported by helicopter to an area hospital. The inmate who was attacked regained consciousness and doesn't appear to have serious injuries, according to Lt. Darren Chamberlain of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

Espinoza is serving an 18-year-to-life sentence out of Kern County for first-degree murder. The other man accused in the attack was identified as 28-year-old Salvador Pineda, who is serving a 25-year-to-life sentence out of Riverside County for second-degree murder and attempted second-degree murder.

No employees at the prison were injured. The incident is under review by the investigative services unit at Salinas Valley State Prison, and the state Office of the Inspector General has been notified.

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