TOWNVILLE, S.C. - A teenager accused of killing his father at their home Wednesday was stopped by a volunteer firefighter as he opened fire outside a South Carolina elementary school, wounding two students and a teacher, authorities said. One of those students remained in serious condition Thursday.
It happened in a rural town about 110 miles northeast of Atlanta, just across the Georgia state line, near Lake Hartwell. Anderson County Sheriff's Captain John Skipper said the shooter pulled into the parking lot of the Townville Elementary School around 1:45 p.m. and immediately started firing as he got out of the vehicle and moved toward the school. Shots were fired toward the students and staff on the playground. Capt. Garland Major said two boys were injured, one shot in the leg and the other in the foot. A female teacher was also hit in the shoulder.
Lt. Sheila Cole said the teen was stopped by 30-year veteran firefighter Jamie Brock and was never able to make it inside the school as a result. Authorities are calling the volunteer firefighter a hero, but said he doesn’t wish special recognition for his actions.
Around the same time and about two miles away from the school, the grandparents of the teen were discovering the body of 47-year-old father, Jeffrey Osborne, after the teen called his grandmother's cellphone. The couple told investigators the teen was crying and upset. They said they were not sure what was going on, so they traveled the 100 yards over to the home to find out.
Anderson County Coroner Greg Shore said Osborne died from apparent gunshot wounds.
Authorities have not yet released the accused shooter's name.
"We are heartbroken about this senseless act of violence," said Joanne Avery, superintendent of Anderson County School District 4. She canceled classes for the rest of the week.
Authorities did not release a motive for the shooting and said they weren't sure if the students and teacher were targeted. The sheriff said the teen had been homeschooled.
Skipper said the teen's mother was at work at the time of the shooting.
"There are no racial undertones there. There's no terrorism involved," Major said. "We're confident we have the sole shooter and no one else is involved."
Spokeswoman Sandy Dees says 6-year-old Jacob Hall remains at the Greenville Health System Children's Hospital. The boy's parents, Rodger and Renae Hall, say in a statement that they appreciate the community's support, especially emergency responders who treated Jacob onsite and brought him to the hospital. Although they appreciate everyone's thoughts and prayers, they ask for privacy.
Earlier in the night, a student and teacher, who were also injured and rushed to an area hospital, were released from the hospital. A Med Health spokeswoman Juana Slade told The Associated Press the hospital had treated one adult female and one male child.
News helicopter video shortly after the shooting showed multiple law enforcement vehicles on the ground outside the school, and what appeared to be a police helicopter flying over the scene. Armed law officers were seen on the roof of the building. Students were driven away on buses accompanied by police officers.
The students were bused to a nearby church and reunited with their parents. There they hugged and kissed.
The school has about 300 students in its pre-kindergarten to sixth-grade classrooms. It is in a very rural part of the state and surrounded by working farms.
South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley responded to the shooting in Townville saying, "As we work together with law enforcement to make sure they have the support they need to investigate what happened in Townville, Michael and I ask that everyone across South Carolina join us in praying for the entire Townville Elementary School family and those touched by today's tragedy."
The Oconee County Sheriff's Office, who also responded to the scene, released the following statement about the investigation:
"Deputies from the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office responded to provide assistance at the request of the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office in regards to an active shooter situation that occurred at Townville Elementary School in Anderson County.
“The Sheriff’s Office received word of a reported active shooter at the school around 1:44pm this afternoon and immediately dispatched the first deputies to the scene as well as sending deputies to the area schools in Oconee County to ensure the safety of our students. A request was made until more information became known for the area schools in Oconee County to go into a code yellow which means instruction inside the school continues as usual but no one is allowed into the building. School dismissal will take place in Oconee County on the normal schedule.
“Since that time, the Sheriff’s Office has been assisting the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office in regards to securing and clearing the school. The Sheriff’s Office SWAT unit and additional resources have been activated to assist."
The Associated Press contributed to this report