Lowcountry Headlines

Lowcountry Headlines


Gov. McMaster, locals urge stiffer penalties for illegal guns, bond reform

Special law enforcement unit

Photo: Getty Images

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCSC) - The South Carolina governor will be flanked by local officials and the head of the state’s law enforcement division to push for harsher penalties for those in possession of illegal guns following a shooting on a Charleston County beach that injured six people Friday.

Gov. Henry McMaster, SLED Chief Mark Keel and Isle of Palms Police Chief Kevin Cornett will gather at the State House Tuesday morning and push the South Carolina General Assembly to pass legislation that increases the penalties for illegal gun possession and to pass bond reform.

The leaders will meet on the first floor of the State House at 11 a.m.

A bill, H.3532, that would see people who commit a violent crime, certain weapons offenses, or certain crimes against children while out on bond for another violent offense automatically have that initial bond revoked passed the House of Representatives on March 1.

The bill will be heard in a Senate subcommittee hearing Tuesday morning.

The move for stiffer illegal gun penalties has a more difficult journey. A bill, S.126, that would increase penalties for people who illegally possess or sell guns was not advanced out of a Senate subcommittee earlier this month.

The push comes after a shooting on an Isle of Palms beach that injured five people who were mostly teenagers. In a Tuesday morning update, IOP Sgt. Matt Storen says four victims have been released from the hospital. One victim, a 15-year-old boy remains in the hospital in stable condition.

Cornett said high school seniors from around the Lowcountry were on the beach Friday for “senior skip day.”

Police said the shooting took place near the IOP pier around 5:15 Friday afternoon. Authorities were working to get two fights on the beach under control when shots rang out.

It is not yet clear what school district(s) the students were from or what caused the fights to break out.

An 18-year-old and a juvenile have been arrested on firearm violation charges, but police say it is unclear whether either was involved in the actual shooting.

Charleston County Sheriff Kristin Graziano, whose agency assisted with the shooting, said on Saturday that the districts should have alerted agencies about the gathering.

“The school districts knew this was happening,” Graziano said on Saturday. “If you know people are going to gather in celebration of something, please let us know in advance.”

The knowledge of the senior skip day by the districts has been refuted by school officials.

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Seventeen local and state agencies responded to the shooting, and the department says they were thankful for the quick response from surrounding agencies.

SLED and the FBI are assisting the department in working through video and evidence in the wake of the shooting.

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