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Solicitor: Accused Socastee High shooter likely to be charged with attempted murder

Students undergo searches as they enter Socastee H.S. today after a shooting Tuesday afternoon at the school. Photo by Randall Hill
Students undergo searches as they enter Socastee H.S. today after a shooting Tuesday afternoon at the school. Photo by Randall Hill

A 14-year-old Socastee High School student, who was taken into police custody Tuesday after trying to shoot a school resource officer, will likely face charges of attempted murder and possessing items to make a bomb, 15th Circuit Solicitor Greg Hembree said Wednesday morning.

Classes at the school began an hour later today and all students were being searched as they entered the building, according to Horry County School officials.

The teen is being held in the custody of the state Department of Justice in Columbia and formal charges have not been filed against him, Hembree said. Prosecutors are reviewing the incident to determine the appropriate charges.

The teen must appear before a family court judge within the next 10 days for a detention hearing, which is standard in juvenile cases, Hembree said. Charges, which likely will include attempted murder and constructing or possessing an incendiary device, will likely be filed before that hearing.

An attempted murder charge has a penalty of 30 years in prison.

Prosecutors also must file a motion to have the teen waived up from family court to circuit court where he could be charged as an adult, Hembree said. A family court judge will decide if the case warrants the transfer.

"One of those factors severity of the charges," Hembree said of the decision to charge the teen as an adult.

The teen's identity is not being released because he is being held as a juvenile, but officials said he is 14 and lives in the Myrtle Beach area.

Police were called to the school about 2 p.m. Tuesday after the teen went into the office of Erik Karney, the school resource officer, and asked to talk to him, Horry County police Sgt. Robert Kegler said.

Karney and the teen struggled after the teen presented a weapon and during the altercation the student shot at Karney, Kegler said.

Karney was not shot, but was injured by shrapnel when the bullet hit the wall, Kegler said. Karney, who was treated at Conway Medical Center and released Tuesday evening, was able to get the gun away from the teen and take him into custody.

"I don't know what the conversation was or how it went," Kegler said.

Officers, who responded to the school, evacuated the building and students were held at the football field during the incident, Kegler said. No one was hurt during the incident and other police agencies such as the S.C. Highway Patrol, Coastal Carolina University’s public safety officers helped clear the building and close S.C. 707 during the incident.

During the investigation, Horry County police detectives learned of “allegations of possible explosive devices inside the school,” Kegler said. Police called in bomb detection dogs and found several suspicious devices inside the school.

The devices were identified as pipe bombs and rendered safe, Kegler said. Police also searched the teen’s home in the Forestbrook community and seized items that could be used to make pipe bombs and other incendiary devices.

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