Juvenile in custody after three students shot outside Orangeburg-Wilkinson High School
ORANGEBURG COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) - A juvenile is in custody following a shooting outside Orangeburg-Wilkinson High School that injured three students Wednesday during afternoon dismissal. The school reported that the students who were shot were in stable condition.
The Orangeburg County Sherriff’s Office and Orangeburg County School District held a press conference on Thursday afternoon and released more information on the case which included a clarification on the circumstances of the shooting.
Officials with the Orangeburg-Wilkinson High School initially said that incident stemmed from a drive by shooting, however Sheriff Leroy Ravenell said that further investigation showed it was an “isolated incident” that happened at a parking lot at the rear of the school campus.
Investigators reported that that the suspect is 14 years old and was arrested on campus. He faces three counts of assault and battery with intent.
Ravenell said he was speaking with the solicitor’s office to see if the juvenile should be tried as an adult in the case, and said it was not clear at this point if the suspect was a student at the school.
The sheriff gave credit to the staff at the school for their actions during the incident and said he believed that they saved lives and helped to minimize injuries at the school.
“I think it could have been a real critical incident, and even one student being shot is critical, but it could have been worse,” Ravenell said.
The sheriff also addressed parents’ frustrations in picking up their children following the shooting saying that authorities had to account for each student.
“Everybody was secure in different areas, and law enforcement was stationed with each one of these students throughout the building so we can have enough time to document and get every student over to their parents, and that’s what we did,” he said.
Ravenell said there were active programs happening in the county to protect children from shootings like the one that happened on Wednesday, but he said every time something like this happens the community blames him.
“But, you know every time something happens like this everybody wants to point the finger at Ravenell. This is a community problem. This is not a Ravenell problem,” the sheriff said. “This is a community problem, and until we get that concept and really take into consideration that we need to do something before things happen and blaming law enforcement or blaming school officials, we’re going to continue to have these problems.”
According to the school, law enforcement assisted with the evacuation of the school with students being transported to the nearby Technology Center on Magnolia Street where parents and guardians picked up their students. The school will be closed to students for the remainder of the week, which includes all after school activities and athletic practices.
Superintendent Shawn Foster said the shooting was an “unfortunate situation,” and thanked school employees who got students to safety during the incident.
Constance Alston said she first learned about the shooting when she received a call from her daughter saying there were shooters on campus.
“There is no words to describe when she told me that,” Alston said. “I literally got numb because I didn’t know what to do.”
Alston was outside the school with other parents waiting to go through the process of getting her child Wednesday evening.
“As a parent this is the worst thing you can ever feel,” she said. “As a parent not being there to comfort your child, or not being there to tell them, ‘Everything’s going to be okay,’ after seeing pictures of what happened.”
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