SUMMMERVILLE, SC (WCSC) - Summerville High School's homecoming football game against Colleton County Friday started earlier than usual after rumors began circulating about possible gang violence at the stadium, according to Dorchester District 2 officials.
Summerville's home game was moved from 7:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. after the school was informed that two rival gangs from outside the area threatened to settle a dispute at the game.
A heavy police presence was spotted at the game with officers patrolling the inside and outside of the stadium. A metal detector was also put into use.
"The Summerville Police Department and Dorchester School District Two are taking this threat/concern very seriously," Raynor said in a statement. "The first priority is the safety of students, staff and the public."
The DuBose Middle School band was initially scheduled to the the field with the Summerville High School band during Friday night's game, but that has been rescheduled to another date. An email sent by DuBose Band Director Ben Pouncey to parents states Band Night was rescheduled "due to circumstances beyond our control," and will instead be held on Friday, November 7 at Summerville's home game against Bluffton.
The district is taking measures to ensure the safety of those who will be attending the homecoming game, including the increase of law enforcement officers at the stadium and in the parking lot.
Summerville Police Department Captain Jon Rogers says many different law enforcement agencies will be present to assist with public safety.
Entrances to the stadium will be limited to Gate 1, the gate adjacent to Rollings Middle School of the Arts, and to Gate 3, across from Spann Elementary on John McKissick Way. The gates will open at 4 p.m.
Fans are being asked not to bring large bags, tote bags, or book bags into the stadium. After the game, spectators will be asked to exit immediately after the game.
Parent says detailed message should've gone out days ago
Parents have been getting automated phone calls from Summerville High School this week.
Violence, is what Summerville parent Oleta Stites thought of when she got the first recorded message Tuesday.
"The recording stated that we need to talk to our students to make them aware of their surroundings, that there was going to be heightened security," said Stites.
Stites says she was left with many questions.
"What the heightened security is about, or what they're going to do for heightened security," said Stites.
Summerville parents got another call Thursday telling them changes have been made because of rumors of gang threats.
The district employee making the call said, "Summerville Police Department and Dorchester School District Two are taking these threats and concerns very seriously."
Stites said, "I am glad to see that they are taking this seriously, but I also feel that this should've already come out. When they did that recording Tuesday, it should have came out then, versus now."
Stites says a day's notice isn't enough time for word to spread to people who didn't get the recording, but still want to go to the game.
"With it being homecoming, in my hometown when it's homecoming all alumni are there. I feel the public needs to know, they need to all be concerned and be aware to not only keep our students safe, our children, but also adults and the public," said Stites.
The plan for the game is to only allow fans through two gates where everyone will walk through metal detectors.
Stites says she won't be there.
Stites said, "Even though we want them to keep us safe and we know that's their job, that doesn't necessarily mean that's going to happen, because you never know."