ANDERSON — A teenager opened fire outside Townville Elementary School on Wednesday afternoon — shortly after killing his father at home, authorities said — as this far northwestern corner of South Carolina joined the national ranks of gun violence attacks.
The shooter also wounded a teacher and two students — one of whom was so critically injured that if school officials didn’t render CPR as fast as they did, the incident would have been far worse.
The unidentified teen, reported to be as young as 14, was ultimately taken down by a volunteer firefighter.
Anderson County Coroner Greg Shore said the youth shot and killed his father, Jeffrey Osborne, 47, at their home.
The shooter called his grandparents but was crying and speaking incoherently after he shot his father. By the time they left their home 100 yards away from the shooting site, the teen was gone and Osborne was dead.
The teen fled to nearby Townville Elementary, for reasons unknown, where he parked his car and immediately began opening fire, according to authorities. He shot one student in the leg, another in the foot and a female teacher in the shoulder, Anderson County Sheriff John Skipper said.
Jacob Hall, 6, was flown to Greenville Health Systems Pediatric Trauma Center for surgery and remained in critical condition late Wednesday.
The teacher, identified as Meghan Hollingsworth, and the other male student, also 6, were released from Anderson’s AnMed Health Medical Center earlier.
It is unclear what the shooter’s motive was at the school, his connection to the victims and if they were his intended targets. He was home-schooled, authorities said.
Without quick action by teachers trained in active-shooter situations, and first responders, the outcome would’ve been far worse, Skipper said.
The suspect was apprehended by veteran Townville volunteer firefighter Jamie Brock on the playground near the school shortly after 911 dispatch received the first distress call at 1:45 p.m. Brock was unarmed and subdued the shooter after a wounded Hollingsworth took students back into the school building, officials said. Brock reportedly held him down until assistance arrived.
The shooter was denied access inside the school by more than one teacher, Skipper said.
State Sen. Kevin Bryant, R-Anderson, was told the shooter’s gun jammed multiple times on the playground.
“The kid had another box of ammo and his gun kept jamming,” Bryant said. “One of the teachers performed CPR on the playground. The child would not have made it without it.”
The school has about 285 students in its pre-kindergarten to sixth-grade classrooms and is located in a rural area near Lake Hartwell, near Interstate 85 and the Georgia state line.
“We are heartbroken about this senseless act of violence,” said Joanne Avery, superintendent of Anderson County School District 4. She canceled Townville Elementary’s classes for the rest of the week.
Despite earlier plans that she would travel to the site after news of the incident spread, Gov. Nikki Haley did not visit with families in Anderson County but did issue a statement in the aftermath.
“As we work together with law enforcement to make sure they have the support they need to investigate what happened in Townville, Michael and I ask that everyone across South Carolina join us in praying for the entire Townville Elementary School family and those touched by today’s tragedy,” Haley said.
Deputies from the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office assisted Anderson County Sheriff’s Office deputies, who responded within seven minutes.
Television images showed officers swarming the school. Some were on top of the roof while others were walking around the building. Students accompanied by police officers were driven away on buses.
Federal authorities reached out to county law enforcement, but locals believe the incident is isolated and not terror-related.
The alleged shooter’s name has not been released, but he is scheduled to have a Family Court detention hearing Friday in downtown Anderson.
Schools across the nation, including in the Charleston area and in the state, have taken steps to increase security against gun violence since the Christmastime 2012 attack by a lone gunman killed 26 students and faculty at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn.