Two people showed up at an abandoned house where four teenagers were hanging out and opened fire, killing three of them and wounding the fourth in an escalation of an old dispute over a robbery, authorities said Monday in Columbia. South Carolina.
Two 17-year-old Eau Claire High School students were arrested on three counts of murder, one count of attempted murder and possession of a weapon during a violent crime, according to the Richland County Sheriff's Department. An investigation is underway and more arrests could be made, Rep. Veronica Hill, public information officer, told The Associated Press on Monday afternoon.
The slain teens also attended Eau Claire High School, according to a statement from Craig Witherspoon, the district's superintendent. The only survivor attended a nearby high school.
The district provided additional counseling and security at the high school on Monday in response to the “unimaginable tragedy,” which Witherspoon denounced as “senseless gun violence.”
Sheriff's deputies responded to the shooting in Columbia, the state capital, shortly after 2 p.m. Sunday, the sheriff's department said.
After the two shooters opened fire on the home, they followed the victims as they fled to the backyard and continued shooting, according to a redacted incident report. It was part of a “problem” that Lott said began two years ago with a robbery.
Three victims were ages 16 and 17 and died at the hospital, and the fourth victim, age 14, was released, the sheriff's department said. The Richland County Coroner's Office identified the deceased as JaKobe Fanning, Caleb Wise and Dre'von Riley.
Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott did not say how the weapons were obtained at a news conference Monday. But, he said, many gun owners in Columbia leave their firearms in cars, where they are easily stolen. The city experienced 100 vehicle thefts last weekend, Lott said.
Lott said he held the press conference to address “something that seems to be recurring” in Colombia. and throughout the country .
Nine people between 16 and 20 years old were injured in a shooting in a park this spring at an event involving students from Columbia-area high schools, authorities said.
Witherspoon and other elected officials called for more after-school programming from churches, schools and governments. While the vast majority of young residents do not commit crimes like the weekend murder, they said, these shootings should not be normalized.
Richland County Councilwoman Gretchen Barron said lawmakers can't legislate “good behavior” and “healthy choices.”
“We need everyone in town to be behind me and the town that is out there listening to this,” Lott said. «We need to do more. This shows that we have not done enough.”