COLUMBIA, S.C. — Eight people were shot, and one was killed, at a Saturday night graduation party in the Midlands, S.C., the Clarendon County Sheriff’s Office said.
One of the gunshot victims, a 32-year-old woman, died Sunday morning at Prisma Health Richland hospital, Sheriff Tim Baxley told The State.
The Clarendon County Coroner’s Office is expected to publicly identify the woman after notifying her family.
Six of the victims were children, according to Baxley. In addition to the woman who died, a 12-, 13-, 14-, 17-, and 36-year-old were shot, along with two 15-year-olds, the sheriff said.
“This is a senseless act and we will not tolerate it,” Baxley said.
Most of the victims’ injuries were not considered life threatening, according to Baxley. At least one of the surviving victims is believed to be in critical condition, and all are still being treated at area hospitals, the sheriff said.
Further information on the other victims’ conditions was not available.
“Our Summerton Community is wounded at this moment,” Summerton Mayor Tony Junious said on Facebook. “We’re praying for the families involved in this tragedy.”
At about 11 p.m., deputies responded to calls about a shooting at a graduation party in the St. Paul area of Clarendon County, according to Baxley.
There were between 100-150 people at the party when deputies arrived, including the shooting victims, Baxley said.
There was no word on a motive for the gunfire, but Baxley said he’s confident the shooting was gang related. Investigators think a previous disagreement or drive-by shootings in other parts of Clarendon County led to Saturday night’s shooting, according to Baxley.
At least one vehicle, but likely two, pulled up to the party, and shots were fired before the vehicles sped off driving south on U.S. 15, Baxley said.
The sheriff said there were multiple people firing weapons, and between 60-70 bullet shells have been recovered. It’s possible someone in the crowd at the party returned fire after the shooting began, according to Baxley.
No arrests have been made, and information on the shooters was not available.
Anyone with information on the shooting is asked to call the sheriff’s office at 803-435-4414, or CrimeStoppers at 888-CRIME-SC or submit an online tip.
“We will continue to investigate until an arrest is made for the individuals responsible,” Baxley said. “We’re not going to give up. I know somebody knows something. Those in the gang world don’t like to talk, but there are people’s children being shot. I’m tired of it.”
Baxley said he doesn’t want the mass shootings that have become commonplace across the country to occur in Clarendon County.
“It’s unbelievable what’s happening in the world and the United States in particular,” Baxley said. “Innocent people are victims.”
Along with the sheriff’s office, other law enforcement agencies that responded to the shooting included the Manning Police Department, South Carolina Highway Patrol, South Carolina Department of Natural Resources Law Enforcement, South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, as well as Clarendon County Fire Rescue.