A 23-year-old man has been formally accused of posting social media threats to open fire at Orangeburg-Wilkinson High School, Orangeburg County Sheriff Leroy Ravenell announced Thursday.
“This isn’t a game, this isn’t some joke where everybody laughs,” Ravenell said.
“This is a serious act to be involved with and especially at a time such as this when the nation seeks answers. We have our answer to this individual. He’ll face a judge and the utmost justice,” he said.
The Orangeburg man was charged Thursday with disturbing schools and unlawful communication, which are misdemeanors. The T&D does not typically name people charged with misdemeanors.
Ravenell asked the court to deny bond in light of the seriousness of the incident.
“I think he is a danger to the community,” Ravenell said. “This is a very serious time after the incident in Florida.”
Orangeburg Consolidated School District 5 spokesman Bill Clark stated some students at the campus may need mental health counseling after the threats.
One person is in custody and another has been charged after threats were made toward local high schools.
“This social media post is so much more. It had the impact of affecting more than 1,000 students at our campus,” he said.
“This particular threat was very specific. It mentioned a specific time and specific act and it impacted a lot of people,” he added.
Clark said, “On the day of that threat, approximately three-fourths of our students stayed home or their parents pulled them out of school. We’ve had only 200 students absent today.”
“When this wraps up today, it doesn’t end for us. We have students who are already requiring mental health services because they are afraid that what happened in Florida can happen at their school,” he explained.
Case investigator Keisha Gilliard also asked the court to deny bond after an exhaustive and urgent investigation to locate the suspect.
State and local law enforcement officials are investigating threats involving two high schools.
Orangeburg County Magistrate Derrick Dash said he is “deeply disturbed” by this incident.
“If it were in my power to do something different, I would,” he said.
Dash set bond at $3,237 for the two charges.
According to the incident report, the man allegedly used a fake social media account to post open threats against the Orangeburg-Wilkinson campus and its students.
Deputies were immediately dispatched to the Bruin Parkway campus after the threat was discovered Tuesday.
The post implied shooting would begin at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday.
“Acting immediately on this threat, we discovered this individual was posting comments under a false social media name,” the sheriff said. “Once this individual was identified, our agents along with Secret Service and U.S. Marshals began an urgent search which resulted in the apprehension” of the suspect.
Investigators tracked the suspect to an Orangeburg residence not far from the O-W campus. He was taken into custody around 2 a.m. Wednesday.
If convicted of unlawful communication, the suspect faces a maximum of 30 days in jail. Disrupting schools has a maximum penalty of 90 days in jail, if he’s convicted.
The suspect is currently serving probation after he pleaded guilty on Feb. 8 to unlawful carrying of a pistol and possession of a pistol by a person unlawful.
His probation is set to end on Feb. 7, 2019.
His trial date for the recent charges is March 8 at 9 a.m. at the Orangeburg County Magistrate’s Office on Ellis Avenue.