Jan. 22 (UPI) -- Two inmates were killed in a fight at a Mississippi prison, officials said, increasing the number of violent deaths within the state's correctional facilities to seven in less than a month.
The Mississippi Department of Corrections said in a statement Tuesday the two inmates died from injuries sustained during a fight Monday night at the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman, located about 130 miles north of Jackson, the latest in a string of deaths that have occurred under the state's penal care.
Prison officials said they have launched an investigation into the deaths and have determined they are unrelated to the recent series of killings in the prison system.
"The safety of staff and prisoners at Parchman is our immediate priority, and we are working hard to restore and maintain order," said Tommy Taylor, interim commissioner of the Mississippi Department of Corrections. "We believe that the motivation behind this latest altercation is limited to this new tragic circumstance. The environment that makes such violence possible must be addressed quickly, and we are committed to making changes to do so."
One of the victims from Monday's fight was identified as Timothy Hudspeth, 35, who was sentenced to 10 years for possession of a firearm by a felon in April 2018. The identity of the second victim was withheld pending notification of next of kin, the state's department of corrections said.
The two victims are the sixth and seventh violent deaths to occur at a Mississippi correctional facility since Dec. 29, WJTV reported. They also follow the death of inmate Gabriel Carmen, 31, who was found hanged at the Parchman facility on Saturday.
Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves said in a statement Tuesday that he is working "around the clock" with local officials to prevent future deaths within the prison system.
"There is much more to be done here," he said. "We have asked [the Department of Corrections] to provide as much information to the public as possible as quickly as possible. Transparency is the first step."