According to the Department of Justice, a South Carolina man was arrested after making multiple threats to shoot up schools in Anderson County (DOJ).
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of South Carolina confirmed on Friday that 22-year-old Jonathan Trent Patterson, a Belton resident, has been charged in a federal complaint with electronically transmitting multiple shooting threats involving several schools in the county. The office did not reveal the specifics of Patterson’s threats, but stated that no harm had been done.
The arrest comes just over a week after a mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, which killed 19 children and two adults. The Uvalde school shooting was the deadliest in the United States since Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012, when twenty children and six adults were killed.
“I want to first let everyone in the Upstate know that we are not aware of any physical harm that has occurred as a result of these threats, and the suspect is in custody and thus does not pose a threat to the community at this time,” said U.S. Attorney Corey F. Ellis in a statement released by the DOJ.
“While these charges speak for themselves, this office vigorously investigates and, when necessary, prosecutes threats and acts of violence.” This is especially true when anyone threatens to harm our schools, and recent events confirm that these threats must be taken seriously,” Ellis added, thanking the FBI and Anderson County Sheriff Chad McBride for their assistance in the arrest of the Belton man.
The FBI and Homeland Security officials are assisting the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office in their investigation of the case. Patterson is scheduled to appear in front of a judge in court on Friday at 2:30 p.m. local time.
According to Greenville, South Carolina news station WYFF, several threats have been made in Anderson County in the last two weeks, the most recent on May 28.
The threat prompted a message to be sent to the families of students at Anderson School District One’s Wren Middle School, Wren High School, and Concrete Primary School. According to the WYFF, a parent of one of these students said the message informed family members of increased police presence on campus due to threats.
Tri-County Technical College in Anderson County canceled classes for the entire week on Friday 27 due to threats. On May 31, the college issued a statement announcing its reopening on June 3:
“Tri-County Technical College Police, Anderson County Sheriff’s Department, FBI, and Homeland Security are continuing to investigate recent threats made against the College.” We learned today that a number of other Anderson County schools received similar threats over the weekend as a result of the investigation. Members of law enforcement have stated that none of the threats are credible; rather, they consider the threats to be nuisances intended to cause disruption.
“Based on their recommendations, we are resuming normal operations in stages. This means that over the next three days, we will gradually reduce the number of non-TCTC law enforcement officers on our campuses, and building entrances will be unlocked beginning Friday, June 3. Our top priority remains student and employee safety, and we will continue to collaborate closely with law enforcement as their investigation continues.”