The students at Blythewood High School were just trying to be polite.
When a man approached locked school doors early Tuesday morning, students knew visitors were supposed to go to the main desk and sign in, but they let him in anyway, Richland 2 spokeswoman Libby Roof said.
Fortunately for everyone involved, the man left his loaded gun in the parking lot, according to police reports.
“The protocol that was broken was that someone opened the door,” Roof said. Students “absolutely should know” not to let strangers in side doors, Roof said.
“Sometimes it’s just human nature,” Roof said. “You don’t want to be rude and slam the door in somebody’s face. Sometimes it’s easier said than done.”
Police say Jarelle Trevor Woodhouse, 29, was charged with possession of a stolen weapon and possession of a weapon on school property. He remained in the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center on Thursday afternoon, according to records.
This was the second time in two weeks that Woodhouse entered a local high school wanting to talk to students, and in both cases students let him in through locked doors, according to Roof and police reports from Richland County Sheriff’s Department.
Woodhouse said he “wanted to talk to students about making positive life choices,” but it’s unclear what he would have said, according to Roof.
On Jan. 29, Woodhouse parked his car in the Ridge View High School bus loop parking lot and was let into the cafeteria by a student, according to a police report. He then walked to the front desk and asked the front office staff to let him talk to the students. When office staff told him he needed to sign in and talk to an administrator, he left the front office and wandered around the school before returning to his car, according to the police report. No charges were filed after the Jan. 29 incident.
After Woodhouse left, Ridge View School Resource Officer Deputy Jasper Rogers did some research on Woodhouse. First, he found out that Woodhouse had told the front desk he was “an undercover cop from the 93rd precinct out of Harlem,” according to the police report, a district that doesn’t exist. Second, Rogers discovered that Woodhouse had been a student of both Ridge View and Blythewood, so he notified Blythewood High that he might stop by. When Woodhouse did, Blythewood School Resource Officer Deputy Terry Dozier was already on the lookout for him.
“The (School Resource Officer) at Ridge View is very proactive,” Roof said.
Outside a few traffic charges, Woodhouse has no prior, serious criminal charges in South Carolina, according to records from State Law Enforcement Division and the county court system.
“I can assure you that is something that will have to be looked at,” said Richland 2 School board member Teresa Holmes. “The safety of all students is key.”