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Upstate faces another school shooting

Aralynn Minnick, Asst. Photo Editor

The recent shooting at Tanglewood Middle School in Greenville County has led some to question Clemson’s preparedness if such an event were to occur on campus, while at the same time reminding locals of the Townville Elementary shooting back in 2016.

On Thursday, March 31, a call was placed from a Tanglewood Middle School resource officer, informing dispatchers that shots had been fired within the school. Within minutes, more than 200 law enforcement and first responders were on the scene to find one 12- year-old student struck, according to the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office.
12- year-old Jamari Jackson was struck and rushed to a local hospital where he later died, according to a statement released by his family. Jackson died of a gunshot wound to the chest at 1:05 p.m., said the coroner on Friday,
The suspect, also a 12-year-old male student, was taken into custody and has been charged with murder, possession of a weapon during a violent crime, possession of a firearm on school property and unlawful possession of a weapon by a person under the age of 18, said Greenville County Sheriff Hobart Lewis. 
The suspect has been taken to the Department of Juvenile Justice in Columbia.
“While the motive for the shooting and how the suspect was able to get possession of a firearm is still under investigation, we can confirm that the victim and suspect were familiar with each other and we are confident the incident was isolated,” said Lewis.
Students at Tanglewood were bussed to Brookwood Church in Simpsonville to be reunited with their families.
“The district’s emergency response plan has multiple sites, including Brookwood Church, that are pre-determined as reunification sites based on criteria that’s needed to respond effectively in an emergency,” according to a statement from Greenville County Schools. The church is located roughly 18 miles from the school.
Tanglewood is only a 30-minute drive from the Clemson campus, and several students within the College of Education have close ties with Tanglewood and the surrounding schools in the district.
“We were heartbroken to hear about the school shooting at Tanglewood Middle School, one of our school partners in Greenville County Schools,” said George Petersen, dean of the College of Education in a statement. “[Students] may also be volunteering or completing field placements in and around the Tanglewood area and may encounter students and families directly impacted by this tragedy. We want you all to know that we are here to support you as you navigate feelings around this senseless act.”
The Tiger reached out for an additional comment from the College of Education in reference to the shooting, asking if any Clemson students were present at Tanglewood during the shooting.
“We do not disclose any information about which school sites have current Clemson students. Placement information goes directly to individual students each semester. We have district level partnerships with all school districts surrounding the Clemson area,” said Michelle Cook, spokesperson for the College of Education.
A school shooting this close to Clemson’s campus raises the question, how prepared is Clemson if such an event were to occur on campus? 
“Our goal is to delay, to the extent possible, those who have an intent to do harm through acts of violence from reaching their target,” said University spokesperson, Philip Sikes. “This is accomplished through not only access control, but also through video monitoring, active patrols, and vigilance on the part of our community.”
In previous years, Clemson has been working to enhance its access control system, the system that requires students, faculty and staff to scan their CUID before entering buildings on campus. 
Prior to March of 2020, the University was moving toward full implementation of the access control system. The period of modified operations during the COVID-19 pandemic provided an opportunity to fully activate the system and utilize its full capacity to manage clearances and spaces in a manner that provided the highest level of protection for individuals and facilities,” said Sikes.
The COVID-19 pandemic provided for a great opportunity to test-run the system, and officers are constantly trained to respond to targeted violence and regularly engage in tabletop and full-scale exercises with campus and mutual aid partners to test and evaluate University training and response protocols, according to Sikes. 
This is not the first time the Upstate has been struck with such tragedy.
In 2016, 14-year-old Jesse Osborne shot and killed his 47-year-old father, Jeffrey Osborne, before taking a pick-up truck from the home and driving toward Townville Elementary.
Authorities believed the teen shot his father at their home before driving a pickup truck three miles down the road to Townville Elementary, where he crashed the truck, exited the vehicle and fired at a door as it was being opened for recess, according to a report in The Tiger. The bullets struck two students and a teacher.
Jacob Hall (6-years-old), a first grader at Townville Elementary suffered from a gunshot wound to the leg which struck his femoral artery. According to his family, he suffered massive blood loss at the scene that eventually proved too much to overcome.
Clemson continues to prepare for events that would negatively impact the learning environment and safety of campus. Sikes added, “Unfortunately, violence can occur in any environment. […] All the pieces must work in concert for us to achieve our ultimate goal of creating a learning environment where students, staff and faculty are safe and secure.”

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