COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — A Catholic school in South Carolina waited more than two weeks to tell parents a student was expelled and arrested after making racist videos and threatening to shoot black people.
The videos of the white, 16-year-old male casually firing a gun and making racist comments revived painful memories of the fatal shooting of nine black worshippers in a Charleston church in 2015.
Two of the videos made by the Cardinal Newman School student show him using at least two different guns to fire more than two dozen shots into a box that he says represents all black men, according to a Richland County Sheriff’s Department report.
He uses a racial slur several times in the videos and says black people “are stinky and they just suck.”
“They are bad people.”
The videos were made May 11 and sent around in a group text, according to the police report, which did not indicate how many people received them. School officials got wind of the videos on July 13, called police and told the student’s parents they planned to expel him on the next weekday, July 15, according to a letter from Cardinal Newman Principal Robert Loia. The Catholic diocese of Columbia, which oversees the school, gave a copy of the letter to The Associated Press.
The student was arrested on July 17 after a third video surfaced in which he threatened to shoot people at the school, according to the sheriff’s department report. He has been charged as a juvenile with making student threats. His name has not been released because he is a minor.
School officials didn’t tell parents about the student until The State published a story about him, on July 30.
Loia, who was hired as Cardinal Newman’s principal this spring, said officials didn’t immediately tell parents what happened because they believed the threat ended when the student was arrested; the sheriff’s department was still investigating; and they had to respect laws governing student confidentiality.
African American parents said that wasn’t good enough.
“There were too many mysteries, and the parents were left out,” said Greg Pryor, who has a child at Cardinal Newman, but did not want to reveal the child’s sex or grade level for safety reasons. “We really didn’t know what was happening, and that was truly wrong. They continued to have children in an unsafe environment.”
The new school year begins Aug. 20, but athletic practices and other programs are held throughout the summer.
The videos brought back traumatic memories of the fatal shooting of nine African American worshippers at the Emanuel AME church in Charleston. The shooter, Dylann Roof, made a video in which he fired the same gun he would later use to kill his victims. Roof, also white and 21 at the time of the shooting, was convicted and is now on death row.
Roof told authorities he killed the churchgoers because he hated black people .
Officials at Cardinal Newman, which costs about $1,000 a month, met with parents on Monday and plan another meeting Thursday, to “ensure that your children are treated with the respect and dignity which they deserve,” according to a second letter from Loia.
The school enrolls about 580 students from seventh to 12th grade, according to its website, which did not break down the number of students by race.
“I will not have my child continue if there’s not a plan in place that makes me and my child feel safe moving forward,” Pryor said.