Crime & Courts

South Carolina Prison Riot: Another Guilty Plea Entered

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Another inmate of the South Carolina Department of Corrections (SCDC) has entered a guilty plea tied to his role in a deadly 2018 riot at Lee Correctional Institution, a close-contact (a.k.a. maximum security) prison located in Bishopville, S.C.

Chan Soheap Bun, 39, pleaded guilty to possession of contraband and criminal conspiracy. He was sentenced to eight years in prison (on top of his prior sentence) with nearly three years knocked off for “jail time credit.”

According to an SCDC news release (.pdf), Bun’s conspiracy charge is linked to “his part of the riot in housing unit F-5” at Lee Correctional. The contraband charge is tied to “weapons he possessed during the incident.”

“Cases involving other inmates charged in the riot are expected to be scheduled soon,” SCDC’s release noted.

The Lee riot – a gang-on-gang slaughter – left seven inmates dead and seventeen others wounded. It was the deadliest prison riot in the United States in a quarter century.

As we reported at the time, the deadly violence began when rival gangs within the prison initiated a turf war after several inmates were transferred to Lee from McCormick Correctional Institution – another maximum security SCDC facility located in McCormick, S.C.

Ironically, Bun is now an inmate at McCormick – another close-contact (a.k.a. maximum security) prison within the SCDC system.

According to our sources, gang members known as “renegades” (owing to their refusal to follow orders from their leaders) initiated the bloody melee. “Renegades” from three gangs – the Bloods, the Crips and the Gangsta Disciples (a.k.a. Folk Nation) – were said to have been involved in the riot, which began in the prison’s F1 pod at around 7:15 p.m. EDT on Sunday April 15, 2018. The violence quickly spilled over into two other pods at the prison.

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RELATED | ‘PRISON EMPIRE’ PLEA DEALS REACHED

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As the violence escalated, a relatively new arrival who had joined the Crips for protection was said to have been slaughtered “ritualistically” in front of the other inmates – allegedly to “send a message.”

“He was quietly staying out of riot but the Bloods came and took him out and killed him,” a source familiar with the incident told us at the time. “He was carved up in front of the others.”

After the first round of murders, gang members began “fighting (throughout) the prison.” At one point, bodies of wounded inmates were “stacked like cordwood” inside the facility.

“Some of the inmates were bleeding out in the pile still alive,” one witness told us.

The melee was facilitated by inmates using contraband cell phones, according to prison officials.

SCDC officers regained control of the facility at approximately 3:00 a.m. EDT on Monday, April 16, 2018 – nearly eight hours after the rioting began. The S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) dispatched its SWAT team to assist in that process.

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Last month, four inmates pleaded guilty to charges linked to their role in the mayhem – but more than forty inmates are still facing charges. All of the prosecutions tied to the riot are being handled by the office of S.C. attorney general Alan Wilson.

Bun was originally sentenced to thirty years in prison for his role in an October 12, 2006 drive-by shooting on Hunter Philson Drive in Spartanburg, S.C.’s west side. That shooting resulted in the death of 24-year-old Cleve L. Jeter – and the wounding of two others. Bun, 23 years old at the time, was convicted of murder and two counts of assault with intent to kill following a three-day trial.

Bun drove the vehicle and fired his weapon twice. Another occupant of the vehicle – then 18-year-old Sok Bun – received life in prison without the possibility of parole for his role in the shooting. The cases were prosecuted by former S.C. seventh circuit solicitor (and current CourtTV “trial tracker”) Jessica Thill.

Bun has hardly been the ideal prisoner since being remanded to SCDC custody in December of 2007. His inmate report (.pdf) reveals multiple infractions both before and after the 2018 riot – including repeated possession (or attempted possession) of cell phones and drugs. Since the riot, Bun has been cited for possession of a weapon (in April of 2019) and for striking a correctional employee (in July of 2019).

Bun is listed as being from Boiling Springs, S.C., however his SCDC intake records indicate he was born in Thailand and his inmate report lists him as an “alien.”

As noted in our last report on the fallout from the riot, count on this news outlet to keep our audience up to speed on any new plea deals associated with this story – as well as any scheduled trials.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR …

Will Folks (Brett Flashnick)

Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven children.

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1 comment

Yo Momma Top fan August 18, 2023 at 11:29 pm

Wait…is this the same Bun that is housed at a Core Civic facility ??

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