Sheriff: Investigation closed in racist videos, threat case
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — A South Carolina sheriff said Monday that no one else will be charged after last month’s arrest of a Catholic high school student accused of making racist videos and charged with threatening to shoot people at his private school.
Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott announced at a news conference that his agency had finished its investigation after interviewing several students and determining there presently is no threat to the private Cardinal Newman School. A Cardinal Newman student identified as a 16-year-old white male was arrested July 17 and charged as a juvenile with making student threats. The student, whose name was withheld because he is a minor, was expelled from school.
“We do not feel there is any threat to Cardinal Newman whatsoever,” Lott told reporters Monday. “However, Cardinal Newman has taken additional security steps just to make sure everyone does feel safe.”
The student’s arrest came shortly after a video came to the attention of law enforcement in which the teen threatened to shoot people at the school, according to a Richland County sheriff’s report released earlier.
Lott said Monday that investigators have since interviewed 12 of 13 juveniles who received the May 21 group text message containing that videotaped threat by the 16-year-old. Not all of the students attended Cardinal Newman, the sheriff said, adding other schools attended by those students were notified.
Two other videos by the 16-year-old boy show him casually firing a gun and making racist comments, the sheriff’s report had said. Those videos showed the boy using at least two different guns to fire more than two dozen shots into a box that he says represents all black men, according to the report.
The videos revived painful memories of a gunman’s fatal shooting of nine black worshippers in a Charleston church in 2015.
Lott said Monday — as he had previously — that no charges can be filed in connection with those two other videos because South Carolina does not have a hate crime statute. The sheriff reiterated his earlier call to lawmakers to create a hate crime law in South Carolina.
“Legislators, please do something. This is not a Republican thing or a Democratic thing. This is just a thing that needs to be done,” Lott said, calling the videos disturbing.
Lott also said Monday he was limited in what he could divulge about the case because it involved juveniles. Yet he said the threat came to the attention of law enforcement after a parent saw it on a child’s electronic device and reported it.
“I applaud that parent,” Lott said.