South Carolina

Sheriff closes case of Cardinal Newman threats, racist video. No new charges brought

5 things to know about Cardinal Newman School

Here are five facts about Cardinal Newman School, located in Richland County.
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Here are five facts about Cardinal Newman School, located in Richland County.

Nobody else will be charged in connection to the threats and racist videos made by a former Cardinal Newman student, law enforcement announced Monday.

After interviewing 12 of 13 students who were included on a May 21 group message where the threat was made — and after identifying the person who shot the video — the Richland County Sheriff’s Department is officially closing the case, Sheriff Leon Lott announced at a Monday press conference.

The Monday press conference, led by Sheriff Leon Lott, puts an official cap on the investigation into the threats, which rocked the Cardinal Newman community as students prepared to return to school.

“I hope this case brings to the forefront that we don’t have hate crime legislation in this state,” said Sheriff Lott. “I’m standing here as a sheriff saying we need one. Not just here in our county, here in our state.”

After the videos became public, Cardinal Newman Principal Robert Loia promised the school would implement changes, including a threat assessment from the sheriff’s department.

That threat assessment was conducted Aug. 14 by six officials from the Richland County Sheriff’s Department, according to a letter Loia sent to Cardinal Newman parents. The school will also pay for additional off-duty deputies to patrol the school for the next few weeks, Lott said.

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Lott said there are currently no threats against Cardinal Newman “whatsoever,” and parents should not be afraid to send their children back to school.

While the threatening message was sent May 21, a video showing the student firing guns and making racist comments, was made on July 13, Lott said.

Cardinal Newman is a private, Catholic school of roughly 500 students in northeast Columbia for students in grades 7-12.

Lott also called on parents to talk with their students and tell them if they see this kind of racist content or threats, to tell someone.

“It’s disturbing that the young people involved didn’t report this,” Lott said. “A parent checked their child’s electronic devices, saw the video and brought it to the authorities... I wish young people would come forward. They know right from wrong.”

Lott said all the students involved are juveniles, and some of them attended other schools beside Cardinal Newman. Lott declined to identify the schools Monday, but said the principals of each have been made aware. One of the 13 students lives outside the Midlands and the student’s family is not cooperating with the investigation, Lott said.

The 16-year-old former student, a self-described “hater of all black men” whom police have still not named, appears in a video firing two long guns at a box of Jordan shoes, saying the shoes represent his feelings toward African Americans.

The former student looks into the camera at the end of the video and says “F--- all (racial slur).”

The former student was not charged for the racist videos, but rather a later threat where he said he was going to “shoot up” the school, according to previous articles from The State.

When police raided the student’s house on July 17, they found multiple firearms.

Though the case is officially closed, there are still unanswered questions. Police know who was in the video but have not named him. They also know who shot the video, but have not released that person’s name since he or she is a minor, Lott said Monday.

Lott also did not elaborate on why a second student was expelled in relation to the incident — something the school has also not explained.

Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott announced during a press conference, that the young man arrested for making threats to students at Cardinal Newman High School, could not be charged with a crime for the hateful content of the videos.

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