Families: Middle school students 'terrorized' during shooting investigation

VIDEO: Students 'terrorized' during questioning about deputy shooting, family says

BERKELEY COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - The families of two 15-year-old Berkeley County middle school students claim their kids were terrorized during the investigation into the shooting of a deputy.

According to one of the students, his bus driver and an aid said the student resembled a sketch circulated by the Berkeley County Sheriff's Office labeled as a "person of interest" in the attempted murder of Lt. Will Rogers on May 14.

The students said at a Friday morning press conference they were questioned by the principal who then went through their bookbags and wouldn't let them call their parents. The boys say they used their personal cell phones and called anyway.

"They said he was in his 20s. I'm 15," student Jameel McGee said. "Somebody at the school had to mention my name for them to say I'm connected to it, and come to the school to question me."

Agents with the State Law Enforcement Division came to the school looking to collect DNA samples. Only one of the students' parents gave permission.

SLED spokesman Thom Berry confirmed the agents had written consent to collect the DNA sample and did so in front of the student's family.

"I was scared," Zelda Varner, who gave permission for her son's DNA to be collected, said. "I didn't want them to think I was hiding anything, so I told them that they could."

Varner said she felt like she was being threatened, claiming SLED agents told her that her son could either give up a DNA sample or face jail time.

Both students say they now feel like outcasts after being tied to the investigation.

The family wants the one DNA sample taken to be destroyed, something Berry said would happen. Berry did not give a timeline on how soon the sample would be destroyed.

A spokesperson with the Berkeley County School District says district policy dictates that anyone who comes onto the property consents to a reasonable search.

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