PUTNAMVILLE -- Two men are facing criminal charges and another has been hospitalized following what investigators believe was a beating over stolen tobacco.
The incident occurred Oct. 10 between inmates at the Putnamville Correctional Facility, according to a case report filed by the Indiana State Police.
Prison officials say inmate Joshua McDonald, 27, struck fellow inmate Andrew Bristol, 26, in the face after Bristol failed to retrieve McDonald's tobacco that was stolen by two other inmates.
McDonald and Bristol, according to the report, are believed to be associated with a white supremacist gang while the two men who allegedly stole the tobacco are African American.
According to the report, Bristol was punched in the face by McDonald as punishment for not trying to retrieve the stolen tobacco. The alleged beating took place while the men were in the outside recreation area at the prison.
The blow to Bristol's jaw apparently rendered him unconscious, causing him to fall to the ground and strike his head on a concrete walkway.
Prison guards and inmates who were in the outside recreation area when the act occurred told investigators they heard a loud "thump" or "pop" and then saw Bristol fall to the ground. Other inmates told investigators that they thought Bristol had been struck with something other than a fist, possibly a horseshoe.
Bristol was flown to Wishard Hospital in Indianapolis where, according to the report, doctors performed surgery to relieve swelling in his brain. He sustained contusions to the frontal, temporal and parietal lobes of his brain and had excessive hemorrhaging, the report said.
Additionally, Bristol was placed on a ventilator and a feeding tube.
"The last I heard he was still unconscious," Putnam County Prosecutor Tim Bookwalter said Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the prosecutor has charged McDonald with aggravated battery and criminal gang activity, both felonies.
A second inmate, Levi Amburgey, 29, was also charged after investigators said he served as a lookout while the beating took place.
Prison officials report that the victim is a "probationary" member of the gang, meaning he is in the process of earning full acceptance to the group. After interviewing the inmates, officials believe Bristol was given the choice to be punched once in the face or twice in the ribs and that he chose to be hit in the face.
McDonald, according to the report, confessed to punching Bristol in the jaw and seeing him fall to the ground and hit his head.
According to the Indiana Department of Correction offender database, McDonald is serving a five-year sentence for dealing in marijuana out of Tippecanoe County, as well as three years for possession of cocaine and two years for possession of a controlled substance in Fountain County.
Amburgey is serving an eight-year sentence for dealing in cocaine out of Jackson County.
Bristol was serving a six-year sentence for dealing in cocaine out of Marion County.