High School Brawl Places Facility on Lockdown

Fourteen students, including seven juveniles implicated

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By Monique Williams

Sumter, S.C. (WOLO) -- More than a dozen high school students in Sumter were taken into police custody after a fight breaks out first thing this morning. All fourteen students involved face jail time and parents are holding their kids a little closer due to concern and fear.

Miasia Gadson was one of some 500 students who were taken out of school early. This after a mob-like brawl takes place in the commons cafeteria area of Sumter High School before the start of class Tuesday morning. There are 2,400 students in the whole school.

"I saw people getting up on the table and hollering and food started flying and everything," said the first year freshman. "People started rushing, random teachers came running down breaking up the fight."

The confrontation was enough to put the facility on lockdown for two hours. Gadson was tsending text messages to her mother mother, Stephenie, during the aftermath.

"I just didn't want to stay in school. It was worrying me, so I wanted to go home."

"I have a daughter here and I don't want her in the middle of anything.," said mother, Stephenie Witherspoon. "With school shootings and stuff going on, I don't want that call."

Authorities say seven adult students, age 17-to-19, and seven juveniles were involved. Officials aren't calling the incident gang-related, but they're not ruling it out, either. Witnesses say the fight spilled over from a prior disagreement that occurred off campus over the weekend.

Investigators say no weapon was involved and the injuries were minor.

"There was a school administrator and an officer who were assaulted. There could be charges related to that coming down the pipe," said Sumter Police Department spokesperson, Tonya McGirt.

While school officials were breaking up the fight, they were also battling rumor and misinformation via Facebook and Twitter, making an already difficult situation, they say, worse.

"The rumors were out of control," said Sumter school district spokesperson, Shelly Gallaway. "We did what we could to dispel the rumors and assure parents that there were no weapons, no serious injuries, that students were fine and school was normal."

Extra police officers were called in to assist the two school resource officers assigned to Sumter High daily. An increased police presence is expected to remain on campus for the next few days. All students involved in the incident have been suspended pending the outcome of a disciplinary hearing, which is scheduled to take place within ten days. If found guilty of any criminal charges, the younger students face the Department of Juvenile Justice, the older students, jail time.

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