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Second Socastee High student facing charges; Accused shooter could face terrorism charge

09-22-10/Wednesday-----Socastee High School students wait in two lines, one for male students and one for females as they enter the school following the shooting of a school resource officer by a 14-year-old student on Tuesday at the school. Photo By Randall Hillrhill@thesunnews.com
09-22-10/Wednesday-----Socastee High School students wait in two lines, one for male students and one for females as they enter the school following the shooting of a school resource officer by a 14-year-old student on Tuesday at the school. Photo By Randall Hillrhill@thesunnews.com

A second Socastee High School student was arrested Wednesday one day after he made comments on a social networking website about a shooting at the school.

The juvenile, 14, was released to the custody of his parents on Wednesday and is facing a misdemeanor charge of disturbing schools, said Principal Paul Browning. The student also is facing possible disciplinary action by the school Browning said.

The teen and ''seven to eight'' other students were interviewed by Horry County police officers on Wednesday, Browning said. The officers also visited the homes of several students, he said.

"We're all just trying to understand the sequence of events that surrounded Tuesday," Browning said. "Most of the kids (interviewed) seemed to be in his age group, his classmates. We're just trying to find out how much if any prior knowledge they had."

On Tuesday, a 14-year-old student shot a gun at school resource officer Erik Karney. The resulting shrapnel struck Karney, who then restrained the juvenile. Karney suffered minor injuries and no timetable has been set for his return to the school, Browning said.

Bomb squads later found two pipe bombs in the student's bookbag and detonated them, Browning said. The student was wearing the bookbag at the time of the incident and the pipe bombs were detonated, said Sgt. Robert Kegler of Horry County Police

Fifteenth Judicial Circuit Solicitor Greg Hembree said the teen "was attempting Columbine" but does not believe that students are making more threats than they were 10 years ago. But more of the threats are now visible on the internet.

The student is expected to be at a hearing at 9 a.m. Friday at the Horry County Courthouse when he may be charged as an adult and face terrorism-related and attempted murder charges, Hembree said.

At Friday's hearing, a family court judge will determine if the teen should be released to the custody of his parents or remain in custody at a juvenile facility in Columbia.

Prosecutors also may file a motion to have the teen tried in circuit court, where he could be charged as an adult, Hembree said.

If that happens, the teen likely will face charged of attempted murder; possession, threatened or attempted use of weapon of mass destruction for act of terrorism; and possession of a destructive device, Hembree said. All three are felonies. The terrorism charge carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.

A request for a competency hearing also may be filed Friday, Hembree said.

The teens' identities are not being released because they are juveniles.

Officers arrested the second juvenile on Wednesday after learning he had made a threatening post on the social networking site Facebook, Kegler said.

The student made threats after Tuesday's shooting, Kegler said, that were not connected to the incident.

Browning said the student's comments were made 'as a reaction to'' Tuesday's shooting. "He made some comments on Facebook that came to light," Browning said.

The student was charged and released to the custody of his parents, Kegler said.

The teen is facing a misdemeanor charge of disturbing schools which carries a possible sentence of 30-90 days in jail and fines up to $1,000.

Hembree said it's not clear if the charge and it's possible sentence fit the crime given the increase of school violence and threats on the internet over the past several years.

"We do need to regulate it but the hard part is sorting through which ones are serious and which ones the kids are just popping off," Hembree said. "You don't want to send someone to jail for 20 years for blowing off steam.

"But when you have a situation like two days ago, he wasn't being a kid. He was attempting Columbine."

Hembree said he is attending a Federal Bureau of Investigations workshop in October that is focusing on threats made on social networking.

"A lot of the issues now are educating kids," Hembree said. "That there is an obligation that if they see another kid's post about how they are going to blow up a building or something about death and destruction, that's a problem. They need to step up and report it. They need to ask the person, "What are you talking about?''

Browning said that beginning next week the school will start the ''deterrent state" of the security plan at the school and begin to scale down searches. He said the searches will be more random.

"The students need to understand that if they bring anything that is not good, there is a good chance they will get caught," Browning said.

In all, 22 adults have taken part in the screening process the last two mornings. He said several teachers have been coming to school early and are giving up their planning periods to help with the searches.

"It's a tremendous strain on personnel here," he said. "It takes a long time to get the kids through the detectors. It gets our day off to a frantic start."

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