SUMMERTON, S.C. — Just hours after celebrating a graduation, students of a Clarendon County school district are now heartbroken as details emerge from an overnight graduation party shooting that injured seven and killed another.
Angela Bain, the superintendent for Clarendon County School District 4, said she, along with the school community is devastated.
"We just had such a wonderful graduation ceremony of our two high schools," she said.
Her words come in the daylight hours after a suspected drive-by shooting that erupted in the St. Paul community just outside of Summerton. Bain said that students from her district were hurt in the shooting and a parent was killed.
"I'm just so sad for the family - and for our school family - to end the year on something like this," Bain said.
Sheriff Tim Baxley said the shooting began just after 11 p.m. on Saturday night along St. Paul Road. Witnesses among the rough 150 people in attendance said two vehicles pulled up and gunfire erupted soon after.
The sheriff now says between 60 and 70 shell casings were recovered from the scene. It's unclear if any of those are the result of return gunfire from people at the party. A majority of the victims, he said, were teens. He added that investigators believe the shooting was gang-related - but it's still unclear if the shooters had a target.
The sheriff continues to urge anyone with information to call the Clarendon County Sheriff's Office.
And, in the meantime, the school district is still monitoring the situation and receiving updates regarding an event that, in an instant, upended a joyous occasion.
"I just pray that we can get back to some civility," Superintendent Bain said.