The weeklong search for a 250-pound statue of the Bluffton High School mascot ended Thursday -- on the 50-yard line of rival Hilton Head Island High School's football field.
In a suspected prank, the statue vanished last week from its perch atop the tunnel at Bluffton High's stadium. The missing mascot also was featured in a homemade, hostage-style video that circulated among the student bodies at both schools, authorities say.
The video features the statue and a masked person whose voice is distorted, instructing those watching to meet his demands, which are never specified -- or else, said Lt. Joe Babkiewicz, spokesman for the Bluffton Police Department.
The short clip ends with the suspect whacking the mascot with the butt of a weapon believed to be a BB gun.
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"This (video) is clearly part of a prank gone terribly wrong," Babkiewicz said.
Though the statue was returned Thursday to Bluffton High, the search for those responsible for its disappearance will continue, Babkiewicz said.
"School administrators have requested that we continue our investigation," he said. "They just don't want to see any retribution by their students and have them go over to Hilton Head and do something. They want ... to send the message that this type of behavior is unacceptable."
Bluffton High football coach Ken Cribb has said whoever stole the statue must have had a truck, ladders and tools. He said the thieves had to jump a fence, climb atop the tunnel and get through bolts and chains to remove the mascot.
No suspects have been identified.
Dave Adams, Bluffton High's athletic director, said the school's athletes, coaches, students and fans were happy to have the mascot back.
"We're a relatively new school, and we're trying to start traditions ... and last year, we put up the bobcat," Adams said. "We had a successful football season last year, and you start to associate those traditions with that success; so, yeah, it's great to have the (statue) back."
The school's football team was unbeaten in the regular season last year en route to a Lower State championship.