Student says feared for his life during lockdown, now he's suspended

ORANGEBURG, SC (WIS) - A 7th-grader in Orangeburg says he feared for his life when he saw another classmate with a gun in school.

Wednesday, William J. Clark Middle School went on lockdown after that gun was reported to administrators, but parents expressed their disappointment with how the incident is being handled, believing they should've been notified sooner and questioning the suspensions currently coming down against students for not speaking up.

A picture surfaced on social media not long after the incident and Orangeburg Police confirm the picture was taken inside the school's bathroom.

"I was scared for my life," Eric Jones said. "I actually saw it myself. He basically just put the gun up like that. So, I could only see the end of the barrel."

Jones, a 13-year-old student, said it was true that a student brought a gun to William J. Clark Middle School on Wednesday, but is now facing a suspension from school after not speaking up earlier about the gun.

"My son admitted that he saw what was going on; however, he was scared," Roquel Rhodes, Eric's mom, said.

Jones admitted that he has previously had issues with the student that brought the gun.

"He followed me off campus in the early part of December and basically beat me up," Jones said.

Jones said that normally he does speak up when he's being bullied, but this time was different.

"Because, it was a firearm involved," Jones said. "I was scared that we going to take his gun out and start shooting. Is this a real gun? Is this a BB gun? Is this a toy gun?"

Rhodes says her son has a right to feel safe.

"What occurs if he does say something," Rhodes asked. "How are you going to make sure that he doesn't get beat up?"

Parents were sent a text message about the lockdown, timestamped at 2:03 PM, but students say the incident happened much earlier.

"As a parent, I want to know what's going on with my child immediately once something goes on," Rhodes said. "We want to know was the gun confiscated? What was the outcome? Is there going to be a school meeting? How are you going to move forward making sure our kids are safe? None of that was addressed."

The student pictured is not the juvenile being charged in the incident.

The school district says they are cooperating with law enforcement in the investigation.

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