Orangeburg officials are urging residents to get their information from reliable sources after social media rumors of violence caused some parents to keep their children out of school last week.
The rumors stem from a fatal shooting incident at a fast-food restaurant.
“Since this incident, there’s been a lot of information and misinformation on social media,” Orangeburg Department of Public Safety Director Mike Adams said at a press conference Tuesday.
“Some of this misinformation has created a little bit of a panic in some circles in Orangeburg,” he said.
“Pay attention to the sources where you get your information,” Adams said. “Use reliable news sources.”
Raquan Malik Middleton, 17, died after being shot in the parking lot of Cookout, located at 725 John C. Calhoun Drive, on Feb. 24.
Trequan Tyreke Stokes, 18, of 219 George Street, is facing one count of murder and two counts of attempted murder in connection with that incident.
After the incident, rumors of threats began to spread on social media, Adams said.
When ODPS officers visited some of the area schools last week, they discovered that attendance was down by 50 percent in some areas due to the rumored threats some parents were seeing on social media.
“There’s going to be a heavy police presence,” Adams said. Cooperation with community partners is also taking place.
As for the deadly shooting on Feb. 24 and any other similar incidents, Adams said, “If you know something, you need to tell someone. If you see something, say something.”
Adams said, “There seems to be several beefs going on here in Orangeburg where you have groups of people targeting each other.”
“One offense predicates another,” he added. “We’re going to put an end to it.”
Orangeburg Mayor Michael Butler said, “It is the time now for us to stand together.”
“Now is the time to have a good working relationship with each other and law enforcement,” he added.
Butler said that the city’s heart and condolences are extended to Middleton’s family.
He also said the city is praying for the 15-year-old who was injured during the shooting.
“I’m asking everyone to remain calm and seek out legitimate news sources,” he said.
Butler discouraged residents from relying on social media posts for accurate information.
He praised the work of the Department of Public Safety and the Orangeburg County Sheriff’s Office.
He also stated that the city’s faith leaders are planning to hold a prayer vigil in response to the numerous shootings around the city, mostly in the jurisdiction of the sheriff’s office.
Adams urged parents to know their children’s whereabouts.
“As a parent, you need to know where your kids are,” he said.
The Feb. 24 shooting incident was captured on video, Adams said.
“We’re not releasing the video to the public at this time,” Adams said. He noted that the video provided investigators with key information.
The video captured the incident through a city-owned and installed camera at a nearby intersection, Adams said.
Adams said, “There’s probably going to be more charges coming” in connection with the shooting.
He hopes to have more information at the end of this week or early next week.
Anyone with information about recent shootings or spotting anything suspicious is asked to call ODPS dispatchers at 803-533-5900.