A Fort Mill Sun Investigation

As another school shooting grabs national headlines, local officers are needed in Fort Mill schools to investigate threats, stop fights and seize drugs and vaping devices.

A review of police reports from the first three months of the school year shows serious incidents at each of the high schools. (Full summary below.)

Just weeks after opening its doors, Catawba Ridge High School officials had to handle threats by a student to “shoot up the school.” A mental health counselor alerted an officer about a possible threat to the school passed on from a student. The boy said he was told by a classmate that he was “going to shoot up the school” and warned the boy “not to show up.” The boy reportedly has Tourette’s Syndrome and no gun was found in his bedroom, a report said.

A week later, a Catawba Ridge teacher told officials that a 15-year-old student had allegedly made a threat to shoot some students with an AK rifle. The girls who initially heard the threat didn’t take the boy seriously due to mental issues. An officer planned to counsel the student on why he couldn’t make those type of statements, and the student’s special services teacher and his behavioral interventionist also planned to make sure the boy was supervised during lunches.

At Nation Ford High School, a parent tipped off the school in September to a social-media video showing an assault inside a PE locker room. The officer discovered that a 16-year-old boy had been lured into the club house and to the PE locker room on separate occasions where an older student was waiting. On both occasions, the 17-year-old subject slapped the younger boy in the head area with an open hand, hard enough to cause the victim to cringe in pain on the video. The subject was charged with assault & battery.

And a 17-year-old Fort Mill High student wrapped his hand with a belt and struck a classmate during PE class on Nov. 1. Both suffered injuries in the resulting fistfight and the initiator was charged with assault and battery.

Serious incidents aren’t limited to local high schools.

On Halloween, a 14-year-old student at Springfield Middle School confessed to creating a group chat on his cell phone titled “steven ur dead lmao”. The teen said he sent a series of threatening text messages to scare the classmate. In the texts, the suspect challenged the teen to meet him in a school bathroom to fight. He texted that the classmate that he “better hope there were teachers around to break it up because he wasn’t stopping.”

As with most school districts across the state and country, officers at the high schools are handling reports of vaping and occasionally fights.

On Oct. 25, two NAFO students were charged with assault & battery after fighting in a boy’s bathroom, a fight over money owed for e-cig cartridges.

On the second day of school at Catawba Ridge, school officials alerted the officer that a 16-year-old student was seen smoking a vaping device in a friend’s car. Vehicle searches of several cars turned up two sandwich bags containing 10 grams of marijuana, multiple vaping cartridges, multiple lighters, and a homemade smoking device. Police searched a second vehicle and found a pocket knife with a 5-inch blade and a THC oil vaping pod. Two students were charged.

A Nation Ford officer was alerted Sept. 20 that a faculty member walked into the boy’s restroom on B Hall and observed a 16-year-old student with a dab pen, a pen-style vaporizer for cannabis. The student confessed to Assistant Principal Pam Pittman that the pen contained THC oil. That’s when the officer was brought in, and the student was charged with simple possession of marijuana, suspended from school and released to his mother.

A week later, a NAFO officer was told that two girls were smoking e-cigarettes in the restroom every day between classes. The girls allowed Pittman to search their belongings. One girl had nothing. The other 16-year-old girl had a dab pen in her backpack and a brown pouch with a cartridge that contained THC oil. She was charged with simple possession of marijuana, issued a juvenile summons and released to her parent.

At Fort Mill High School, two students were found Sept. 24 with prescription pills that they convinced a classmate to share with them. An officer’s investigation into the pills also turned up a vape and a cigar. Two students were charged with unlawful possession of prescription drugs with an additional citation given to one for possession of tobacco product by a minor.

The school district regularly communicates with parents about any possible dangers, such as Thursday’s incident when a piece of ammunition was found in the weight room at Fort Mill High School. The school notified parents that “there was no threat to our campus and at no time were students in danger.”

Administrators also commended the students and staff members “who first reported the incident and the prompt response and action of our security officers, administrators, and law enforcement.”

SUMMARY OF 2019-20 EVENTS (BY HIGH SCHOOL)

Catawba Ridge High School

Documentation Only Report – Students Report Hearing Threat to Shoot Some Students with AK Rifle (Sept. 17, 2019): A teacher told officials that a 15-year-old student had allegedly made a threat to shoot some students with an AK rifle. The officer called the student’s father and told him to keep his son at home until after the investigation. Several girls told the officer that they sat in a group of chairs normally used by a group of boys. The boys told them they needed to move. They did not, so the 15-year-old subject “sat on them” and “made some inappropriate comments towards them and said if they didn’t move he would shoot them.” The girls said they didn’t take him seriously due to mental issues. Administrators told the student not to return until the end of the week, when the officer planned to counsel him on why he couldn’t make those type of statements. The student’s special services teacher and his behavioral interventionist also planned to make sure the 15 year old was not allowed to be unsupervised during lunches.

Documentation Only Report – Threats to Shoot Up School (Sept. 10, 2019): A mental health counselor alerted an officer after school hours about a possible threat to the school passed on from a student. The boy said he was told by a classmate that he was “going to shoot up the school” and warned the boy “not to show up.” The boy was not told a particular date, but he was told that the classmate kept a gun in his dresser drawer. The officer went to the suspect’s house, where the student denied making the statements but confessed to having anger issues that leads him to lash out in class sometimes. He confessed to making a statement that day “to kill his mother,” but he never said anything about shooting the school. The officer was told that the boy has Tourette’s Syndrome and sometimes says things he doesn’t mean. No gun was found in the boy’s room. The boy and his family were told to come on Sept. 11 for a threat assessment at school. Also, the officer talked to the boy again who reported it to a counselor, and the boy said he definitely heard the threats but didn’t think his classmate “meant them.”

Unlawful weapon/Controlled Drug or Narcotic Substance – Marijuana & Weapon Found in Cars (Aug. 20, 2019): School officials alerted the officer that a 16-year-old student was seen smoking a vaping device in a friend’s car. Vehicle searches of several cars turned up two sandwich bags containing 10 grams of marijuana, multiple vaping cartridges, multiple lighters, and a homemade smoking device. Police searched a second vehicle and found a pocket knife with a 5-inch blade and a THC oil vaping pod. One student was cited for simple possession of marijuana and released to his mother. Another was issued a juvenile petition for possessing a weapon on school property and simple possession of marijuana.

Nation Ford High School

Simple Assault – Boys Fight in Bathroom (Oct. 25, 2019): Two teens were charged with assault & battery after fighting in a boy’s bathroom, a fight over money owed for e-cig cartridges.

Intimidation – Threat Received Online (Oct. 18, 2019): A threat was received on the school district’s Google Docs server. No specific user could be identified as the person who authored the post.

Public Disorderly Conduct – Girl Leaves ISS & Threatens Principal (Oct. 17, 2019): A 14-year-old student was arrested at home for public disorderly conduct for an incident that happened the day. She had left in-school suspension without permission and refused to return, screaming loudly when the principal placed his hand on her shoulder to prevent her from going down the hall. “Don’t touch me. I’ll punch you!” she shouted.

Disorderly Conduct – Student Aims Car at Football Coach (Sept. 30, 2019): A 17-year-old student was caught by Coach Jordan Callahan in the parking lot yelling at his girlfriend. When the coach confronted him, the teen said, “Get the f*** out of here!” The teen got into his car and sped away toward the coach, forcing him to step backwards to avoid being struck. The teen was charged as a juvenile with public disorderly conduct and careless driving.

Controlled Drug or Narcotic Substance – Girl Found with Dab Pen in Backpack (Sept. 26, 2019): An officer was told that two girls were smoking e-cigarettes in the restroom every day between classes. The girls allowed Assistant Principal Pam Pittman to search their belongings. One girl had nothing. The other 16-year-old girl had a dab pen in her backpack and a brown pouch with a cartridge that contained THC oil. She was charged with simple possession of marijuana, issued a juvenile summons and released to her parent.

Intimidation/Protective Custody – Student Confesses to Suicide Attempt & Threatens Staff (Sept. 20, 2019): A 16-year-old confessed to several staff members that he tried to kill himself the night before by cutting his throat. The school resource officer noticed a red scratch across his throat.  The officer placed the boy in handcuffs when he wouldn’t cooperate with a threat assessment and was vulgar toward Principal Jason Johns and a guidance counselor. He was told he was being taken to the hospital for an evaluation, but he became defiant. “I may not be here Monday because I’m going to kill myself,” he said. “You better hope you don’t see me Monday because I’m going to come back and get y’all.” A police report said several unsuccessful attempts were made to contact the boy’s mother. He was taken to the hospital, and he was expected to be charged with “student threats” at a later date.

Controlled Drug or Narcotic Substance – Boy Found with Dab Pen in Bathroom (Sept. 20, 2019): An officer was alerted that a faculty member walked into the boy’s restroom on B Hall and observed a 16-year-old student with a dab pen, a pen-style vaporizer for cannabis. The student confessed to Assistant Principal Pam Pittman that the pen contained THC oil. That’s when the officer was brought in, and the student was charged with simple possession of marijuana, suspended from school and released to his mother.

Documentation Only Report – Student Reports Abuse at Home (Sept. 16, 2019): An officer was called to the guidance office to hear a report from a 16-year-old boy about alleged abuse at home. The case was turned over to DSS officials.

Simple Assault – Locker Room Assault Shared on Social Media (Sept. 10, 2019): A parent emailed an officer a NAFO assault video that her son told her was posted on social media. The officer recognized several students and interviewed them. He determined that a third party had lured a 16-year-old boy into the club house and to the PE locker room on separate occasions where an older student was waiting. On both occasions, the 17-year-old subject slapped the younger boy in the head area with an open hand, hard enough to cause the victim to cringe in pain on the video. The subject was charged with assault & battery and released to his mother.

Simple Assault – Two Siblings Beat Up Classmate in Bus Loop (Sept. 3, 2019): Two siblings beat up a classmate in the bus loop after school, and when an officer arrived, the parties had been separated. Assistant Principal Lindsey Marino said when administrators were breaking up the fight, one student was reaching over her and throwing punches at the victim. The school nurse checked out the victim’s injuries, which included several lumps on the forehead and several scrapes on the knees and right arm. The fight apparently stemmed from an earlier threat by one student that “me and my cousin will murder you and your family.” The two siblings met the victim after school and jointly attacked him. The two brothers were each charged with assault & battery, suspended from school and released to their mother.

Controlled Drug or Narcotic Substance – Marijuana Found Hidden in Backpack (Sept. 3, 2019): A 17-year-old student was found with marijuana inside an earbud case in his backpack, which he accidentally left under a lunchroom table. As an officer an assistant principal searched through it to identify the owner, the marijuana was found. But it was later determined to be the property of the student’s cousin, who had left it in the backpack when he gave it to the student. The marijuana was seized and no charges were filed.

Fort Mill High School

Simple Assault – Student Attacks Classmate in PE (Nov. 1, 2019): A 17-year-old student was sitting in the bleachers in PE class when a 17-year-old classmate approached him and struck him with a belt wrapped in his hand. The two teens changed punched before being separated. Both suffered injuries, including one with cuts on his nose and head and the other with a cut under an eye and swelling. The initial attacker was charged with assault and battery while the other was released to his mother.

Investigation – Two Boys Found with Prescription Pills & Tobacco (Sept. 24, 2019): Two students were found with prescription pills that they convinced a classmate to share with them out of his regular needs. An officer’s investigation into the pills also turned up a vape and a cigar. Two students were charged with unlawful possession of prescription drugs with an additional citation given to one for possession of tobacco product by a minor.

Disorderly Conduct – Girl Reports Threatening Texts (Sept. 13, 2019): A student informed an officer that she was receiving threatening texts from a 17-year-old girl who she knew at school. The officer contacted the sender, telling her to stop the threatening texts or risk being charged.

Larceny- Lost Wallet Reported (Sept. 10, 2019): An officer received a report of a lost wallet, which was dropped accidentally at in a common area at the school. The victim said someone used one of his credit cards that night to order something from Door Dash. The officer reviewed video of the victim in the school and couldn’t see evidence of his wallet dropping out. The case remained active pending further investigation.