Eight Blythewood High School lacrosse players are facing charges in connection with a fight at A.C. Flora High School.
Stephen Shelton, 17, and a 16-year-old male were arrested Thursday and charged with disturbing schools, according to Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott.
Alexander Taylor, 17, and William James, 18, are expected to turn themselves in this weekend to Forest Acres police and will face the same charge, Lott added.
Four others – David Montgomery, 17, James Ervin, 18, Jeremy Agema, 18, and Scott Mason, 18 – were arrested earlier and also charged with disturbing schools, Lott said, adding their cases will be referred to the Richland County Sheriff’s Department Youth Arbitration program.
Deputies responded to a complaint of a large fight in the A.C. Flora parking lot around 6 p.m. Feb. 24, Lott said, adding some lacrosse players from both schools had been involved in an ongoing dispute on social media. It was not clear Friday what that dispute was about.
The two teams had agreed to meet for a fight behind an unidentified business on Forest Drive, Lott said, but on the designated day, the A.C. Flora team had an unexpected practice.
Some members of the Blythewood lacrosse team traveled to A.C. Flora and found one of the Flora players in the parking lot, Lott said. After a verbal altercation, and saying he feared for his life, that player punched one of the suspects. Others then jumped in and beat him.
Another member of the A.C. Flora lacrosse team saw what was happening and tried to help the victim but also was beaten, Lott said.
Both A.C. Flora athletes received non-life-threatening injuries to the upper body, Lott said.
Richland County Sheriff’s Department School Resource Officers were able to identify those accused of being involved, Lott said, noting “additional arrests could be forthcoming.”
Neither Richland 2 nor Richland 1 officials would comment Friday on whether any of the Blythewood or A.C. Flora students involved had been disciplined by the schools or the lacrosse teams.
Richland 1 spokeswoman Karen York said the matter “has been addressed at the school level” but did not elaborate.
Richland 2 spokeswoman Libby Roof said Blythewood administrators began an investigation into the allegations against its students the day after the fight. School officials are cooperating with law enforcement, she said.
York said she hopes this incident makes students more aware of the escalated confrontations that can stem from negative social media interactions. “We certainly don’t condone students or anybody else coming onto one of our campuses with the intent of engaging in an altercation with our students, nor do we condone our students engaging in that behavior either,” York said.