CPD, RCSD make five arrests in connection to violent incidents during Saturday’s protests

One additional arrest was made Thursday after the public helped identify a suspect

COLUMBIA, SC (WOLO)–Columbia Police Chief Skip Holbrook and Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott say they’ve arrested five people whom they say played a role in agitating the violence that followed after Saturday’s peaceful protests.

Police arrested Marshall French, 22, of Gilbert, Datrion Gamble, 23, of Columbia, Marcelo Woods, 27, of Columbia, and Randal Metcalf, 31, of Gaston after combing through posts on social media of them taking part in the violent events Saturday.

All four face charges of inciting a riot and aggravated breach of peace.

French faces charges of malicious injury to property. According to deputies, French can be seen on video smashing windows at the Aloft hotel in Columbia as well as helping to tear down a fence near the Columbia Police headquarters.

Hours after seeking the public’s help identifying a man sporting a blue Hawaiian shirt and black baseball hat who was seen just yards from Sheriff Lott at the State House Saturday, deputies arrested Joshua Barnard, 24 on charges of breaking into a motor vehicle, looting, larceny, aggravating breach of peace, and instigating a riot. He also faces charges of intent to distribute marijuana and possession with intent to distribute a schedule I substance.

Sheriff Lott revealed today he asked the man later identified as Barnard what he was doing at the protests Saturday. He told the sheriff that he “was an American who was there for security.”

Sheriff Lott also talked about the possibility that members of the anti-government “Boogaloo” group took part in the violent activities Saturday night. He said a common identifier for the group are people wearing Hawaiian shirts, and that their main aim is to start a second civil war.

After interacting with peaceful protestors at the State House Saturday, Sheriff Lott said he had no issues with the message they were trying to get across.

“But then we had those that I call ‘criminal opportunists’. They took the opportunity from this event to go out here, and do destruction and assault people, which not only law enforcement, they also assaulted innocent people,” Sheriff Lott said.

In addition to the videos depicting the four men who ultimately were arrested, Sheriff Lott showed a video of a man being knocked out by someone while marching through the Vista Saturday.

When asked why he didn’t kneel with protestors Saturday afternoon, Sheriff Lott said he needed to be alert when things started to escalate.

“You can’t kneel and talk with someone when they’re throwing rocks and bottles at you,” Sheriff Lott said.

In addition to the videos, Sheriff Lott showed other objects recovered as evidence from Saturday. He showed a large stick allegedly used by Gamble to break windows of a police car as well as a lanyard from a police baton deputies say was recovered off of Metcalf upon his arrest.

Chief Holbrook met with protestors and knelt with them at Columbia Police headquarters on Thursday.

Sheriff Lott says the four people arrested prior to Thursday morning confessed to their crimes, and he asked them why they broke the law and posted their acts on social media.

“All of them just shook their heads and said ‘I don’t know,” Sheriff Lott said. 

These five arrests come in addition to 50 arrests made over the weekend as a result of the violence in downtown Columbia, including a 19-year-old accused of carrying a pistol and 70 rounds of ammunition during the protests. According to RCSD and CPD, 12 officers and deputies were also injured from the events over the weekend.

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