ANDERSON Co., S.C. (WSPA) – A judge will soon decide if a teenager, accused of killing his father before a deadly school shooting in Anderson County, should be tried as an adult.
The hearing started Monday at the Anderson County Courthouse. From the victim to the suspect, family members for both sides were present as Family Court Judge Edgar Long opened court to decide if the teenage suspect would be tried as an adult or family court.
Authorities have said the suspect killed his father, 47-year-old Jeffrey Osborne, at the family’s home before driving to Townville Elementary School and opening fire as children were on the playground in September 2016.
Two students were wounded in the shooting. One student, 6-year-old Jacob Hall, died of his injuries days later.
A teacher was also shot and deputies later said a third student was injured.
Witnesses took the stand as they began to recount what they saw that September day.
“Chaos, basically,” Justin Wood, Anderson County Sheriff’s Office’s first deputy on-scene, said. “We witnessed one of the victims being held by a teacher.”
Investigators also recounted what they heard from the suspect, who was just 14 years old at the time.
“He said ‘good thing my gun jammed or I would have have shot more,’ and ‘good thing my gun jammed or I would have killed more,'” Inv. Ronald Wood, with the ACSO, said.
Law enforcement officers said on that day there was no doubt who was responsible, the teenage suspect in their custody.
“He said he thinks he killed his father and then he said, ‘no, I know I killed my father,'” Ronald Wood said.
But the defense’s argument was that this teen did not know what was going on while law enforcement questioned him, and was not old enough to make that decision alone.
“So, the child made a knowing decision in waiving his right?”
“From what I saw he did,” Sgt. Grady Epps, lead detective on the case for the sheriff’s office, said.
ACSO Inv. Tracey Call said, “if he had asked for his family or his attorney, we would have stopped the interview.”
The defense asked the that the taped confession be taken out of evidence for the hearing, but after the review the judge ruled to keep it in.
“Age, within itself, is not enough to say it wasn’t voluntary,” Long said.
While the courtroom watched the confession tape, the media was not allowed inside. We were able to get a transcript that broke down what exactly was said in that interview room.
Detectives asked the suspect if he had talked to anybody before coming to the school.
The teen replied in part, “there’s this one group that’s on my Instagram, and they said they were all going to shoot up their schools, too, and I was like, ‘okay, actually people get me.'”
Later in the interview, a female officer asked him how he was going to kill that many kids with one gun.
The suspect replied, “honestly, I don’t know. But it’s just like Virginia Tech, a guy went in with two handguns and killed 32 people, so.'”
When the suspect discussed his father’s death, he told the detective, “I went in there and shot him three times. Then I immediately ran downstairs, gave my rabbit a kiss, went back up, gave all the dogs kisses and went in his truck and drove to the school.'”
In the transcript, he told detectives the gun jammed when he got to the school, which is also what he told one of the investigators outside the school earlier that day.
Testimony for the suspect’s hearing will continue on Tuesday and throughout the week before the judge will make the decision to keep the case in family court or move it up to adult court.
As is our standing 7 News policy, we continue to not identify the suspect by name and have not shown his photo because he’s only been charged as a juvenile to this point.
The suspect has been charged as a juvenile with two counts of murder, three charges of attempted murder and other crimes.
The court is being petitioned for 3 attempted murder counts, 2 murder counts, 5 possession of a weapon during a commission of a violent crime.