FOREST ACRES, S.C. (WIS) - After nearly 30 people were caught fighting at the Landings Apartments earlier this week, the Forest Acres Police Department is increasing their presence in the community.
“It’s is scary,” said Forest Acres Police Chief Gene Sealy. “I mean, my sense is that we couldn’t really find any of these people that were involved in the commotion that lived in these apartments or even lived in Forest Acres. So, that tells me that the component is they’re school students.”
Sealy said the students -- some from A.C. Flora High -- may be using social media to mobilize and fight after school.
“We're sort of getting little hints that it does have some gang attachment to it,” said Sealy, “but whether its just school rivalry or gangs, I don't know right now.”
Outside of the school, those who live in nearby neighborhoods are surprised by this news.
“It’s distressing because you never know when they might drive by and shoot,” said Shirley Smith, “and I’m out in the yard with my little puppy and that sort of thing. It’s very distressing.”
Although some residents are concerned, Chief Sealy said his department intends to push back to ensure their safety.
“If it means taking people to jail, we will,” Sealy said. “I would hope that students, and especially parents, need to step up and this time of the year. I think there’s a lot of maybe some hard feelings going on between rival schools or whatever. So, if that’s the case, then there’s a better way to handle that than to fight.”
WIS reached out to Richland County School District One regarding these incidents. They offered the following statement:
"We have school resource officers in our schools through our partnerships with the Columbia Police Department and the Richland County Sheriff’s Department. We also have a good working relationship with the Forest Acres Police Department. We communicate regularly with our local law enforcement agencies. They keep us informed about any issues in the community that may impact our schools.
"We encourage students to report anything they see or hear that could pose a threat to the safety of our schools, students or staff. They can report any such matters to the SRO or another law enforcement officer, or their principal, a teacher, a counselor or another school staff member.
“We also have a Safe Schools Line through our free Richland One mobile app where they can report issues or concerns anonymously.”
So far, three people have been issues trespass notices.