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July 11, 2020

Salinas Valley State Prison investigating inmate death as murder

SOLEDAD — Salinas Valley State Prison officials are investigating the May 31 death of 25-year-old inmate Elazer Black as a homicide.

At around 12:34 p.m. on Sunday, correctional officers responded to a disturbance inside a Facility B general population housing unit. Black had collapsed to the floor and was bleeding from his chest, officials said.

Four suspects, including Lamar Shaw, were in the area. Shaw had an inmate-manufactured weapon and disregarded orders from correctional officers to relinquish it. Officers quickly intervened using chemical agents to quell the attack and recover Shaw’s weapon. 

A second inmate-manufactured weapon was also recovered at the scene.

Custody and medical staff began lifesaving measures for Black, who had suffered multiple stab wounds to his upper chest, but he died from the injuries. Black was admitted from San Joaquin County on Nov. 4, 2014, to serve 26 years for voluntary manslaughter, his second strike.

Shaw, 26, and three other inmates, Ronald Armstrong, 30, Kevin Moore, 34, and Asbury Rankins, 44, are considered suspects, officials said. The four suspects were rehoused in the Administrative Segregation Unit pending the investigation.

Facility B was placed on a 24-hour threat assessment to determine whether or not this was an isolated incident. 

“The facility will be placed on modified program to facilitate the ongoing investigation being conducted by the Investigative Services Unit at SVSP and the Monterey County District Attorney’s Office,” officials said in a news release Monday. “The Office of the Inspector General was notified.”

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