MONCKS CORNER, SC (WCSC) - A juvenile is facing a heroin related charge after bringing the drug into a holding cell at the Berkeley County Courthouse Tuesday, causing an evacuation and hazmat response, according to a sheriff's office spokesman.
Chief Deputy Mike Cochran, with the Berkeley County Sheriff's Office, says the whole thing started when a teenager, identified as 17-year-old Jeremiah Davis, appeared at the courthouse for a scheduled hearing. Davis was taken into custody after the hearing, and placed in a holding cell.
"They were checked before they went into the cell," Cochran said. "We're still investigating the details."
Davis originally entered the courthouse as a civilian, going through the front doors and security system, according to Cochran.
"Everybody comes in through the metal detector," he said. "So as long as they don't have any cell phones or things like that on them they're allowed to go through."
Davis was then placed in a holding cell, while two other inmates, both believed to be juveniles, were in a nearby cell.
At 1:37 p.m., two officers in the rear hallway of the courthouse heard a noise. When they went to check the cell area, they saw Davis on the floor with what looked like a small amount of blood. Other officers were then called along with EMS.
Officers reported that the two other inmates in the nearby cell seemed to be affected by something. One inmate looked "drowsy," while the other was "rubbing both of his arms very hard."
When authorities asked what happened, one of the other inmates said they took drugs that came from Davis.
Berkeley County EMS responded and transported the three inmates to Trident Hospital.
According to Michael Mule, the Berkeley County spokesman, the three inmates either inhaled or ingested the heroin, before attempting to dispose of it down a toilet.
"Inmates have this way of taking things and flinging them out one door and the other," Cochran said. "When you spend your time in one of those little boxes you find artful ways of communicating."
Mule said when those inmates tried to get rid of the heroin, it went airborne, resulting in a "fall with injuries" call to dispatchers at 1:38 p.m.
Many people are now questioning how the drug got into the courthouse in the first place.
"It's bothersome, but it happens," Cochran said. "The same way drug mules would smuggle drugs across the border is how these inmates get contraband inside a jail cell or into a controlled environment like that."
Cochran added while the "cough" process is one way of checking for drugs, that procedure isn't typical in the holding area of the courthouse.
"My guess is he [the juvenile] didn't know he was going to be taken into custody," Cochran said. "Because if he had heroin on him, he probably would have dumped it on him before he knew he was going in."
The Berkeley County Sheriff's Office is reviewing video surveillance of Tuesday's incident to make sure protocol was followed.