Crime & Courts

Bomb suspects no longer at Newberry College

The four Newberry College students charged in last week's homemade bomb explosions at the college are "currently not enrolled," a college spokesman said Monday.

The spokesman, Chuck Wendt, said he could not reveal the students' exact status - such as whether they had been expelled or suspended - because of student federal privacy laws.

"I can tell you disciplinary action has been taken against all four," said Wendt, vice president for institutional advancement and Newberry spokesman. "We took this quite seriously."

The four students, who were arrested on felony state bomb-making charges, face a minimum of two years in prison if convicted.

Newberry Police Chief Jackie Swindler said Monday his department continues to investigate.

"We're still just looking at everything to see if there are other things we need to look into," the chief said.

Last week, within a 12-hour period, three loud explosions rocked Brokaw Hall, a 293-freshman dormitory.

There were no injuries, but a carpet was damaged. Dozens of police, firefighters and federal agents swarmed over the campus, sealing off areas and evacuating and searching the dormitory.

Police said the devices were concocted from common household chemicals and materials. They could have hurt someone standing close to one of the explosions, police said.

Wendt said that "prior to Virginia Tech (a reference to the 32 people killed in 2007 by a gun-wielding student at the school) and 9/11, this would have been laughed off. But we don't do that anymore."

The four suspects are:

- Steven Lamar Bell, 19, Gracewood Drive, Columbia

- Christopher Lindsay Hopkins, 18, 806 Thelma Gladney Road, Winnsboro

- Brandon Jarrod King, 20, 200 Ringwood Lane, Elgin

- Jordan Alexander Belton, 18, 4242 S.C. 34 East, Ridgeway

Each faces a charge of possession and manufacturing a destructive device. Bell also faces a charge of simple possession of marijuana.

All have been released from the Newberry County jail.

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