Metal detector checks have brought some sense of security to Socastee High School in the wake of this week’s shooting, but some bigger questions on safety linger, students and school officials said Wednesday.
Among concerns about preventing a future incident is whether or how student’s use of social networking websites should be dealt with. The student who committed the shooting used the website Twitter to post threatening messages as early as Aug. 23, Principal Paul Browning said.
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There were lines out the door for the metal detectors and bag searches Wednesday morning, but several students said they thought the checks were a worthwhile to keep the school safe.
"They are kind of a nuisance but they do work," sophomore Kevin Forde said, “...I’m not afraid to come to school.”
There wasn’t a noticeable decrease in attendance Wednesday at Socastee High School, which has about 1,400 students, said Teal Britton, Horry County Schools spokeswoman. Two entrances were open to students who passed through metal detectors and all students and their bags were searched.
All the students, with the exception of a few late arrivals, had made it through the metal detectors by 9:30 a.m. School officials had delayed the start of school Wednesday by an hour.
“They were remarkably orderly this morning having to go through the search procedures,” Britton said. “There are things students can do to help with that and that is to limit what they bring to school.”
A Socastee High student shot a gun he brought to school, striking a wall around 2 p.m on Tuesday and the resulting shrapnel injured the school resource officer - a police officer who works with the school - before the officer restrained him. Bomb squads later removed several pipe bombs from the building.
The student has not been charged but will likely face counts of attempted murder and possessing items to make a bomb, 15th Circuit Solicitor Greg Hembree said. Courts have yet to decide whether he will be tried as a juvenile or an adult.
The Sun News is not identifying the student because he is a juvenile. The student is in the custody of the S.C Department of Juvenile Justice in Columbia.
Apart from any criminal sentencing in court, the student’s case will be heard by student affairs officials in the school district office, Browning said. The hearing could result in four different outcomes: the student could be found innocent, he could be found guilty and be put on probation within the school, he could be transferred the alternative school Horry County Education Center or he could be expelled from the district.
To prevent violent incidents from happening again, Britton and Browning described using policies similar to what has been used in the past to try to prevent violent incidents.
Students will be searched the rest of the week at the school, but, after that, administrators will return to their previous policy of using random searches with the detectors, Britton said.
The metal detectors should have been in full use prior to the shooting, freshman Ivana Godin said while standing in line to be checked. In a separate incident, an 18-year-old St. James High School student was arrested Sept. 8 and charged with disrupting schools after he posted a threat on Facebook. That incident should have lead to increased security at other schools, Godin said.
“After the Facebook thing, they should have had the metal detectors up even if they didn’t find anything,” she said.