Police: Freshman had 5 guns, bullets in dorm room closet
A University of South Carolina freshman has been suspended from school indefinitely and banned from campus after being arrested for having firearms in an on-campus dorm.
Officers with the USC Division of Law Enforcement and Safety on Tuesday arrested 17-year-old Trevor Scott Stephens of Walterboro after receiving information that he was suspected of possessing a handgun inside his room in Maxcy Residence Hall.
According to an incident report, police went to the dorm and spoke to a resident mentor, who told the officers that a student may have weapons in room 214.
Officers observed Stephens walking past room 214 and stopped to question him. Stephens was searched, and police found a pocket knife in one of his pockets.
When asked if any illegal weapons were in his room, officers say Stephens only admitted to having a pair of brass knuckles. When he was asked again, Stephens reportedly hesitated and finally admitted to having more weapons in his room.
After searching the room and his vehicle, police seized five handguns and bullets from a green bag inside Stephens' closet.
Stephens was arrested and transported to the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center. He has since been released on $20,000 surety bond and is currently with his parents out of town, university officials said.
Officials have taken steps to ensure that the Stephens cannot return to or gain access to campus upon his release.
"We are pleased to see that the programs and processes we have in place worked as they should to recognize and address unlawful activity," said Dennis Pruitt vice president for student affairs. "Our bystander program worked and law enforcement was notified. Officers responded quickly and handled the matter appropriately, and our housing and student affairs staff has mobilized to provide counseling or other services to those students who request them."
Students, meanwhile, responded to the incident with a mix of surprise and shock.
"I found out before I got the alert," said Ellen McFadden. "I saw him walk out in handcuffs and I didn't know what was going on. It's kind of scary because it's the first week of school."
"What if there's more of them in our dorm? What if there's more of them in other dorms, you know? The only reason that guy got caught is something suspected. It's scary. I don't really like thinking about it," said Lane Erwin.
The vice president of Student Affairs, Dennis Pruitt, says the campus regularly trains for these incidents.
"When systems work well you're thankful you've done the preparation," said Pruitt. "You can never do enough. You can never predict the next incident you always have to be diligent and we want our students to do the same -- be diligent, be vigilant, and watch for thing that are unusual and take that step to stand up if they need to."
Stephens faces up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine if convicted.
The incident remains under investigation.
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