ANDERSON, S.C. — A 14-year-old South Carolina boy was charged as a juvenile Friday with murder and three counts of attempted murder after authorities say he killed his father and opened fire on students at a school playground, wounding three people.
The boy did not show any emotion as he walked into the courtroom wearing a yellow jumpsuit. He was unrestrained, not wearing handcuffs or leg shackles, as required by state law in most juvenile cases.
As the hearing unfolded, one of the wounded students, 6-year-old Jacob Hall, was on life support and fighting for his life at a hospital about 30 miles away. His family said they were praying for a miracle.
Inside the courtroom, the boy’s lawyer, Frank Epps, noted that the teen has given a statement to law enforcement and asked that investigators not question him again without his lawyer present. The judge agreed to that, and ordered the teen to be held in jail.
The boy’s mother sat on the front row during the brief hearing and left the courtroom sobbing and leaning on another woman.
The Associated Press typically does not identify juveniles charged with crimes.
Authorities say the teen shot his 47-year-old father Jeffrey Osborne at their home on Wednesday afternoon before driving a pickup truck 3 miles down a country road to Townville Elementary. The teen — who is not old enough to have a driver’s license — had to make only two turns to arrive at the red brick school, where he crashed the truck, got out and started firing during recess.
Bullets struck two students and a first-grade teacher. The building was immediately placed on lock down.
Authorities have not released a motive for the killing or the school shooting. They have said the boy was being homeschooled, but have not explained why.
Prosecutors haven’t given any indication about whether they will ask to try the teen as an adult. When juveniles accused of violent crimes are 14 or 15, a prosecutor has 30 days to ask a family court judge to try the teen as an adult. If denied, the prosecutor can appeal to the circuit court, which can order the transfer. Sixteen-year-olds accused of murder are automatically tried as an adult in South Carolina.
Anderson 4 Superintendent Joanne Avery said staff saved lives by flawlessly implementing active-shooter training drills conducted with students at Townville Elementary, most recently as last week.
A teacher, though shot in the shoulder, "was with-it enough" to close the door, lock it and barricade the students, Avery said.
"If he’d gotten in the school, it would’ve been a different scenario," she said.
The shooter then fired toward students on the playground but missed. A teacher who heard the first gunshot was able to get those students safely inside, Avery said.
The teacher who was shot and another student who was hit in the foot were treated and released from a hospital, officials said.
Relatives of Jacob issued a statement late Thursday saying the boy sustained a major brain injury due to the amount of blood he lost after being shot in the leg.
Jacob has been unconscious since arriving at the hospital, his great-aunt Rebecca Hunnicutt told WYFF.
"As long as his heart’s beating, we’ve got hope," she said. "We are hoping for a miracle. We’re praying for a miracle, and we’re expecting a miracle."
Hunnicutt said Jacob has seven siblings, and his parents haven’t left his hospital room.
She described Jacob as "one of these kids that you’d swear was carved out of cream cheese. He is as beautiful on the inside as he is on the out."
Classes are scheduled to resume at the school Monday.