Townville Elem. Shooting: Teen discussed plan on Instagram, says FBI

Members of law enforcement talk in front of Townville Elementary School on Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2016, in Townville, S.C. A teenager opened fire at the South Carolina elementary school Wednesday, wounding two students and a teacher before the suspect was taken into custody, authorities said. (AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt)

ANDERSON, S.C. (WSPA) – An FBI agent testified Wednesday morning in a court hearing to decide if the accused Townville Elementary School shooter will be tried as an adult.

Wednesday is day 3 of testimony in the hearing.

Special Agent Shandal Ewing testified about Instagram messages allegedly sent by the suspect.

Agent Shandal says the suspect used the Instagram account to message people about guns and going to the elementary school to shoot kids.

Shandal also testified that the suspect also had a conversation with another user about how to make a bomb at home.

In court on Wednesday, the FBI said they do not know how old the other account user is and testified that it is possible they replied, but have since deleted the messages.


The following are some of the messages the suspect allegedly sent:

September 16, 2016
“Getting one of these soon, I saved up $2000 and I’m going to buy this” **picture depicts gun for $299 (Message sent to unknown)

September 22, 2016
“Kill them before they bullie the nobody’s.”

“I’ve been planning for 2 years so I’m f*****”

“I’m not going after my middle school doe.”

September 23, 2016
“shooting my dad, getting his keys getting in his truck, driving to the elementary school 4 minutes away.”

“I think I’ll probably most likely kill around 50 or 60.” “If I get lucky maybe 150.”

September 24, 2016
Suspect has conversation with another user on how to make a bomb at home.

September 27, 2016
“If Trump gets elected He’s gonna allow teachers to carry guns.”

“Damn we have like a 2 month time.”

“someone who kills a lot of people without getting killed by cops before he finishes is way cooler than going around kidnapping people and eating their insides.”

– Suspect messages that his dad told him he must get 100 on his math test or his dad says he will kill his best friend who is his rabbit.

– Suspect writes to someone that his dad does not care that he has a disability and is a bully

Defense said the messages sent on Instagram saying that the suspect’s father was dead and that he was eating a cheeseburger were sent prior to any shootings on Sept. 28.

One account user responded to the suspect saying, “If this is real, I would like to see a dead body.”

Time stamp of a message from an unknown user to the suspect wrote, “Should we believe you without proof?” was sent before noon on the day of the shooting.

September 28, 2016 (Day of shooting)

Printouts of FBI evidence of suspect’s Instagram shows a message starting “tomorrows rainbow day for meh.”

– The Defense said it was sent the night before the Townville Elementary shooting.

“I’m giving the kids 4-5 minutes to get back into their classes.”

“I don’t want any runners.

-Defense says that the suspect’s father did not die until 12:30 p.m., according to evidence and testimony from detectives earlier in the week.

-Messages about 5 minutes before noon on Sept. 28 show the suspect asking users for motivation and one user responding, “you can do it m8.”

“Then it’s terminator time,” a message sent by the suspect 15 minutes after noon, then just after 12:30 p.m. tells user to “Skype me noe.”

-Last message would have come after investigators said the teen’s father was shot.

-Message from unknown Instagram user to suspect and other user shows link to news article about Townville Elementary School shooting at 1:42 p.m. on the day of the shooting.


Lt. Barbara Pressley took the stand on Wednesday. Pressley works at GCJDC, where the teen suspect is being held.

Pressley gave the suspect’s height and weight measurements to the court.

According to an incident report, remarks were made by the suspect to another juvenile on Jan. 26, 2017 that were considered bullying.

Pressley testified that the suspect has never cried uncontrollably or attempted to harm himself since he has been at the juvenile detention center.

A report filed at GCJDC said the suspect “said he wanted to go to the Christmas parade as a special guest”

The suspect was reportedly referencing the Townville Christmas  Parade in December after the shooting in 2016.

Another witness, who also work at GCJDC, took the stand on Wednesday and read a report from Dec. 28, 2016 where the juvenile kicked his cell and screamed he will do the same as he did to his dad and put him in the *blank* ground, in reference to someone who made him mad.

Our photographer in the courtroom said the suspect was grinning and laughing as the report about his behavior was being read.

The witness on the stand is the director of the ACDJJ, who said the suspect has been in the detention center for 504 days.

In family court, if the suspect received a minimum sentence he would be 17 years old and at the maximum he would be 18.5 when released.

The suspect is 15 years old.

According to the Associated Press, a clinical psychologist who spoke Wednesday says the suspect could be rehabilitated, but didn’t t know how long that would take.

Dr. Danielle Atkinson says the teen talked about being sorry for the killings of his father and a first-grader at Townville Elementary School in September 2016 but showed no outward signs he was remorseful.

Neuropsychologist Dr. Mark Wagner also took the stand for the state in court Thursday. He initially discussed the cognitive tests that were given to the suspect when he was 15 years old, stating that the results were “average” for his age.

Dr. Wagner then testified that the release of the suspect would be a danger to the public and that the suspect told him he would commit the crime over again and frequently enjoys thinking about killing other people.

According to Dr. Wagner, he recommended that the case should be tried in adult court because rehabilitation is unlikely to be successful. He claimed that a lot of planning went into this crime and that the suspect appears emotionally void during the hearing.

Dr. Wagner also said that there have been times during this hearing process that the shooter “can’t help himself from laughing” and that he even laughed when Jacob Hall’s autopsy results were discussed.

The suspect reportedly told Dr. Wagner that he wanted to be famous, and said that the shooter had a goal of killing 50-60 people at the school.

Dr. Wagner said that the suspect claimed, “to plan to kill people is fun” and that he told the doctor that he did Jacob Hall a favor by killing him.

Dr. James Bellinger, the same doctor who examined Dylann Roof after the Charleston Emanuel AME shooting, took the stand next. He stated that the suspect told him he only deserved one day in prison.

Dr. Bellinger also reported that the suspect used Google to find out what the legal consequences of his actions were before the shooting took place. He also recommended that the suspect be tried in adult court for the safety of the public.

According to the additional statements by Dr. Bellinger, there is no medicine to treat this suspect and that he needs to be in a controlled and secure setting. He also claimed that the suspect cared “more about his image than his punishment”, showing little signs of remorse for his actions.