Authorities are investigating after former New England Patriots tight end and murder suspect Aaron Hernandez was involved in an altercation with another inmate at a Massachusetts jail on Tuesday, according to Bristol County Jail Sheriff Thomas Hodgson.
Hernandez, a Bristol, Conn. native, and the other inmate were both housed in the same special management unit in Bristol County Jail in New Bedford, Mass. and only one inmate is allowed out at a time, Hodgson said.
"We're investigating it now to find out why two inmates would have been out at the same time in that unit," Hodgson said, adding that he does not want to comment until the investigation is complete.
"Suffice it to say that I am not happy there may have been a breakdown in our system, in our protocols," he added.
Hodgson told WJAR in Providence that the Sheriff's Department is conducting an internal investigation into the incident that will take about a day-and-a-half to complete, depending on what investigators find.
The altercation took was stopped pretty quickly and no one required medical attention, Hodgson said.
Hernandez could face criminal charges as a result of the investigation and have the time he's allowed out of his cell reduced from three hours to one hour per day, Hodgson told WJAR.
The details of the altercation are unclear. Hernandez will remain in the same housing unit overnight, according to WJAR.
During a news conference on Wednesday, one reporter asked the sheriff about rumors of taunting and Hodgson said he did not say that and disputed reports that the altercation took place in a hallway.
"As far as any taunting goes, I'm not sure at this point. I won't know until the investigation is complete," Hodgson said. "It wouldn't be uncommon in a prison setting for inmates periodically to taunt one another out of here cells because they can hear each other, but that's undetermined at this point exactly what's taken place."
When asked if this is an offense that someone could be fired over, Hodgson said he did want to jump to the conclusion that there was anything intentional in what happened.
"We deal in the people business every day and people are going to make mistakes. It doesn't make it OK. It just make it the reality of the business I'm in," he said.
When mistakes happen, Hodgson said, he takes full responsibility and needs to make sure they do not happen in the future.
Hernandez is accused of murdering semi-professional football player Odin Lloyd in North Attleboro, Mass., last year and has pleaded not guilty.
He has also been linked to an unsolved 2012 drive-by double homicide in Boston.