UNION — One man has been arrested and more arrests are possible in a shooting incident at an apartment complex that lead to Union County High School going into lock down for more than two hours Tuesday morning.
In a statement released Tuesday afternoon, Union Public Safety Director Sam White announced the arrest of Jesse Cole Harris, 19, 365 New Hope Church Road, Jonesville, on the charge of pointing and presenting a firearm.
The arrest grew out of an incident that White said occurred around 7:40 a.m. involving the discharge of a firearm. White stated that it was reported to his department that two cars were parked at the Lakeview Garden Apartments located on Lakeside Drive in Union. He said that two residents approached the two cars and asked the individuals in them to leave.
White said that a verbal argument ensued and as the two cars left the area it was reported that four gunshots were heard. He said the residents reported that the persons in the vehicles were Union County High School students. The residents described the vehicles as a silver Jeep and a dark colored Nissan Maxima.
The press release states that the UCHS School Resource Officer reported this incident to the school’s administration which activated the school’s emergency plan.
White said a vehicle matching the description of the Jeep was located in the student parking lot. As the investigation proceeded it was learned that there two 15 year old Union County High School students and two adults that had been in the vehicles.
This information was given to the Jonesville Police Department and the Union County Sheriff’s Office who White said later located the two male subjects which in turn led to Harris’ arrest.
White said that the case remains under investigation and that more arrests and charges are possible.
In addition to the charge brought against him by the Union Public Safety Department, Harris is also facing a charge by the Union County Sheriff’s Office.
Sheriff David Taylor announced Tuesday afternoon that his office is charging Harris with one count of unlawful carrying of a pistol.
Taylor said that Lt. John Sherfield of the sheriff’s office was contacted by Union Public Safety Department investigators to be on the look-out for Harris and another white male because they were allegedly involved in a disturbance at 720 Lakeside Drive (Lakeview Garden Apartments) involving a discharge of a firearm.
After being contacted by the public safety department, Taylor said Sherfield contacted Jonesville Police Chief Carl Jennings with the same information and Jennings stated that he had just observed the two males in a blue Dodge pick-up truck just prior to Sherfield’s phone call. Taylor said Jennings started looking for the vehicle and minutes later he located it at the Lil’ Cricket in Pacolet. He said Jennings watched the vehicle and minutes later it pulled out and started north. Taylor said Jennings followed the vehicle and requested assistance from Spartanburg County and Pacolet Police Department. He said officers initiated a traffic stop at Highway 176 and West Main Street, Pacolet, and detained the subjects until additional units arrived.
Taylor said that during the stop, Sherfield noticed that Jesse Harris was the driver. He said Sherfield asked the occupants if there was a firearm in the vehicle and Harris stated that he had a pistol under his driver’s’ seat. Harris was then arrested Harris was arrested and charged by the sheriff’s office.
Another subject was detained by Union Public Safety investigators for questioning regarding the shooting, but Taylor said the individual was later released.
In response to the report of the shooting, UCHS went into lock down and would remain locked down for more than two hours.
The lock down at UCHS occurred at the beginning of the school day according to Union County School District Superintendent Dr. Kristi Woodall.
“Some time this morning around the start of school, we’re not sure of the time, there was a shooting incident at the apartments about a mile from the school,” Woodall said Tuesday morning. “It was also College Day at the school, so we had a lot of students going to special events within the school.
“We needed to know that the people in our building were supposed to be there,” she said. “So we had to restrict movement in and out. That calls for a lock down.”
Woodall said that students were confined to classrooms while the school’s staff conducted a head count until every one was accounted for. She said that the head count, which she also assisted in, confirmed that all those in the school during the lock down were supposed to be there.
“There were the normal absences, but the people that we thought had come to school were in the building,” she said.
Woodall said the lock down began around 8 a.m. when the school’s School Resource Officers informed the school administration that the school was going into lock down. She said they then called her and it was then she went over to UCHS to assist with the headcount.
“We remained in lock down until 10:15 when Chief Sam White told us the area was safe,” Woodall said. “The school then went back on to its regular schedule.”
Woodall thanked the UCHS staff for their handling of the situation. She also thanked the parents of the students for the trust they have placed in the school and the district.
“We need to thank our teachers for following protocol to the letter,” Woodall said. “We also thank the parents for trusting us to put the procedures in place to account for students.”
Charles Warner can be reached at 864-762-4090 or [email protected]