Crime & Courts

Student who made threat found with weapons at Richland County high school, cops say

A student at a Midlands high school has been charged with multiple crimes after he was found with weapons Tuesday on campus, the Richland County Sheriff’s Department said.

The 15-year-old brought the weapons to Westwood High School after making threats, the sheriff’s department said in a news release.

Another student overheard the 15-year-old threaten to “shoot up the school,” according to the news release.

The student who heard the threat reported it to their parents and school staff, who contacted Westwood’s school resource officer, the sheriff’s department said.

The 15-year-old was pulled aside after arriving at the school in Blythewood Tuesday morning and admitted making the threats, saying it was “just a joke,” according to the news release.

“It’s never a joke to us,” Sheriff Leon Lott said in the news release.

The student was searched and had two knives, the sheriff’s department said.

The teen was charged with carrying a weapon on school property and student threats before being turned over to his parents’ custody, according to the release.

His identity is not being made public because he is under the age of 17.

In a letter sent to parents, Westwood High Principal Dr. Cheryl Guy said there is no danger to the school, and the resource officer secured the weapons and no injuries were reported.

The school was not locked down, and classes were not disrupted, Richland Two spokeswoman Libby Roof said in an interview with The State.

The teen will have to appear in Richland County Family Court, but no date has been scheduled, according to the sheriff’s department.

Richland Two is following district procedures for discipline, meaning the student has been removed from the school and he faces the possibility of being expelled, among other punishment options.

Lott commended the student who reported the threat, adding, “All threats against a school will be taken seriously, investigated and prosecuted by the department.”

Guy echoed those sentiments in her letter.

We are proud of our student for sharing the safety tip with us and appreciate all that our employees, students and parents do to help keep our school a safe place for learning,” Guy said. “Remember, our schools are staffed with lots of caring adults, including our school counselors, who are available to help work through issues in a productive way. If you have any questions or concerns about school safety, please contact a school administrator.”

This is the sixth threat made at a Midlands school in a month.

A Lexington One student was recommended for expulsion in early August, The State reported. A rising junior at White Knoll High School was arrested and charged after he made threats to shoot up the school and to kill himself, the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department said.

On Aug. 22, a Meadow Glen Middle School student was removed from all Lexington District One schools after sending threatening text messages about Lexington Middle School, The State reported.

Two days later, on Aug. 24, a Pelion Middle School student was charged with making threats, saying he wanted to drive his truck into the school and shoot three girls who upset him, according to The State.

On Aug. 28, a Beechwood Middle School student told a classmate that he had a bomb in his book bag and was charged with making threats to a school, per The State. The sheriff’s department said no explosives were found.

Less than a week ago, a student at White Knoll Middle School made a threat about a school shooting after fighting with another student, and was charged with making threats to harm a school student, and third-degree assault and battery, The State reported.

Additionally, a former Cardinal Newman student caused an uproar when it was discovered he posted racist and threatening videos, The State reported. The 16-year-old was videotaped firing guns at targets meant to represent black people. He said he hated African Americans and used a racial slur to describe them, before threatening violence against the Catholic school of more than 500 students.

Noah Feit is a Real Time reporter with The State and McClatchy Carolinas Regional Team. The award-winning journalist has worked for multiple newspapers since starting his career in 1999.
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