Social services centers in South Carolina have gone to high alert with increased patrols by law enforcement agencies in response to the mass shooting Wednesday at a similar building in Southern California.
At least 14 people are dead and more than a dozen have been reported wounded in a mass shooting at Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, according to law enforcement officials. The center provides services to people with developmental disabilities and their families in San Bernardino and Riverside counties, according to its website.
S.C. Department of Disabilities and Special Needs facilities are working with law enforcement to “coordinate heightened security and request additional patrolling,” according to spokeswoman Lois Park Mole.
“The agency has contacted each facility director and its provider network statewide to notify them and ensure everyone is on high alert,” she said. “The safety and well-being of each individual served along with the staff providing their care remains the highest priority.”
DDSN has five regional facilities across the state, including one in Summerville.
“Everyone is being overly cautious as care and services continue to be provided,” Mole said. “Our prayers and sympathy are extended to all those in California affected by this horrible tragedy.”
Police say two suspects, one male and one female, were killed after the shooting. San Bernardino Police Chief Jarrod Burguan also said at a news conference Wednesday evening that authorities found what they believe is an explosive device at the Inland Regional Center and bomb squads were working on it, according to the Associated Press.
Medical University Hospital also has several clinics that offer resources for individuals with developmental disabilities. Spokeswoman Heather Woolwine said the hospital’s security is always vigilant, but shootings like the one in California cause them to re-examine safety protocols and procedures. “I think anytime an event like this happens, it gives everyone pause,” she said.
Woolwine said that security staff is well-trained to handle many situations, including any involving an active shooter.
“We feel prepared as anybody can be, but we do continue to look at our protocols, look at our procedures, to see where we can improve and fill in the gaps,” she said.
The hospital houses The National Crime Victims Research and Treatment Center, where victims of similar shootings may be treated and may need more treatment after seeing a situation like the one unfolding in California. Seeing other mass shooting incidents can cause victims, such as the Emanuel AME survivors, to relive previous events.
The June 17 shooting at Emanuel AME Church in downtown Charleston left nine dead. Three people who were also in the Bible study at the time survived. “It’s important for people to realize we are all affected by this in some way or another,” Woolwine said. “There is help here.”
The West Coast shooting has also put local law enforcement on alert.
Charleston Police Department spokesman Charles Francis said patrols are being increased as a precaution, the same as in the aftermath of last week’s shooting at a Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs.
Charleston County sheriff’s Maj. Eric Watson said his agency is monitoring the events in California.
“Our deputies are reminded on a daily basis, either through squad briefings or training, to remain vigilant during the course of their daily activities,” he said. “We ask that everyone remain vigilant and be aware of their surroundings and report suspicious activities to their local law enforcement agency.”
Watson added that the Sheriff’s Office conducts regular active-shooter training and that instructors with the agency are frequently requested by security professionals in the private sector to train their employees and staff on how to deal with active-shooter incidents.
Reach Melissa Boughton at 843-937-5594 or at Twitter.com/mboughtonPC.