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Documents: SC school shooting suspect alluded to Emanuel AME shooting during confession

The shooting happened on Sept. 28, 2016 at Townville Elementary School. (Source: WHNS) The shooting happened on Sept. 28, 2016 at Townville Elementary School. (Source: WHNS)
Mother Emanuel AME Church (Source: Live 5) Mother Emanuel AME Church (Source: Live 5)

Court documents released in connection with a September 2016 school shooting in Townville, South Carolina show the suspect alluded to the Emanuel AME shooting during his confession. 

The teenager, who was 14 years old at the time of the incident, is charged with two counts of murder, three counts of attempted murder and five counts of a weapons charge.  Investigators said he shot his father to death on Sept. 28, 2016, before driving to Townville Elementary School's playground and opening fire, wounding two 6-year-old students, hurting a third student, and shooting a first-grade teacher.

The victims were later identified as 47-year-old Jeffrey Osborne and 6-year-old Jacob Hall. 

The 46-page transcript came from a video of the confession and was obtained by WHNS-TV. The defense attorney for the suspect argued the confession should not be allowed.

The judge said the suspect volunteered his confession and allowed it to be used in court.

In the document, the suspect tells investigators that he had faced bullying and was angry. 

Below are excerpts from the transcript:

Suspect: “There’s is a bunch of crazy stuff on my Instagram because last few months I’ve just been—”

Officer: “Seems like you have been having a hard time. And a person’s got to – you can’t keep it all bottled inside.”

Suspect: “Yeah. Unfortunately a pillow doesn’t help.”

Officer: “Did anyone know that you were going to go to the school today?”

Suspect: “The kids in my group. Yeah.”

Officer: Did you tell them this morning?”

Suspect: “Yeah. And they were cheering me on, so what else was I supposed to do? They’re just a bunch of lunatics.”

Officer: “Yeah, sometimes. That’s unfortunate. Unfortunately, those types of people are drawn to the internet.”

Suspect: “And you will see a bunch of Columbine and stuff like that on my page and stuff. I felt like this year, it’s like I had –”

Officer: “Because you’ve been bullied?”

Suspect: “Yeah. Basically, just started stuff.”

In this passage, he refers to the shooting at Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston on June 17, 2018. In that incident, Dylann Roof opened fire at the church after a Wednesday night Bible study, killing nine parishioners including the church's pastor:

Suspect: “Because nothing ever happened in this area.”

Officer: “Not in little Townville, you know?”

Suspect: “Only thing that’s happened in South Carolina is down at that church. So I can understand that. But—”

Officer: “How do you feel about the church?”

Suspect: “The church shooting – this guy with a mental illness went in, killed a bunch of black people, and then that’s how he—now he’s dead, isn’t he? On death row?”

Officer: “No. He’s still alive.”

Suspect: “I can’t get to death row, can I? I’m pretty sure I can’t. Because I would not want that.”

Officer: “Well, let me ask you this. What did you think the outcome today would be?”

Suspect: “Like total wise? I was thinking 20, 30 kids. I don’t even know.”

Officer: “You thought you would kill 23 kids?”

Suspect: “Yeah. And the kids – the kids in the group chat which are 14, 15, 16 and I think one is 17. They were all cheering me on.”

Officer: "God's got a plan for all of us. We don't know what it is."

Suspect: "Before today I gave up home in God because of all the thoughts. Now I know that he is real. And probably the reason why the gun jammed is because of God."

Officer: "I thank God that gun did jam."

Suspect: "I thank God for that too. And I thank God for that fireman not shooting me in the back for moving an inch."

A court hearing continued Tuesday to decide whether the teen will be charged as an adult in the case. Video of the sheriff's office's interview with the suspect was played during the hearing, but the media was not allowed to view the recording, according to WHNS. 

Copyright 2018 WCSC/WHNS. All rights reserved.

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