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More than a dozen teens, staff hospitalized after fight at SC National Guard facility

More than a dozen teens, staff hospitalized after fight at SC National Guard facility

Several teenagers participating in a youth academy housed at a military base in the area have been hospitalized since Tuesday’s unrest, officials said.

The incident involved members of South Carolina’s Job and Youth ChalleNGe programs at the McCrady Training Center, U.S. National Guard Maj. Gen. Van McCarty said at a news conference Tuesday night. The facility is located on Leesburg Road near US 601.

In all, 14 cadets and one employee were taken to area hospitals, SC National Guard spokeswoman Capt. Jessica Donnelly said in a news release Wednesday afternoon. All were released from hospitals Tuesday night, either back to the program or to their parents, the statement said.

The incident was called a “riot,” by the Richland County Sheriff’s Department.

It started around 5 p.m., when “an altercation broke out between cadets from the SC Job ChalleNGe program,” Donnelly said. What started as a personal matter escalated from an argument to a physical altercation, according to the statement.

Donnelly said all available ChalleNGe staff responded to the fight, and that’s when a separate altercation broke out between cadets in the Youth ChalleNGe program.

ChalleNGe program staff notified front gate security at McCrady Training Center, who notified Fort Jackson Military Police, and as part of their standard protocol, the MP contacted local law enforcement agencies. the law

At the 8:30 p.m. press conference, McCarty said the “situation is currently under control” and that “parents are being notified of the incident.”

“The South Carolina National Guard will fully cooperate and support an investigation of the incident,” McCarty said. “We are committed to ensuring our cadets are safe at all times.”

Donnelly said both incidents were under control within an hour.

No weapons were found in either altercation, and the number of cadets involved in each incident is currently under investigation, but no arrests were made, Donnelly said.

Of the cadets who were hospitalized, eight are from the Job ChalleNGe program (between 16 and 18 years old) and six are from the Youth ChalleNGe program (between 15 and 18 years old), according to the statement.

There are approximately 35 cadets enrolled in Job ChalleNGe and 90 enrolled in Youth ChalleNGe, Donnelly said.

Some parents and cadets have left the programs in the wake of the incidents, but the programs will continue the cycle for the remaining cadets, according to the release. It is currently being investigated how many cadets will be dismissed from the programs as a result of the incidents.

Before the fights, a post was made on the South Carolina Youth Academy’s Facebook page early Tuesday, addressing an earlier incident that had been shared on social media, Donnelly said. That post was unrelated to Tuesday night’s fights, the statement said.

The post refers to a separate incident Monday, when a cadet was leaving the program and was picked up by a parent, Donnelly said. When the father arrived, other cadets asked to call their parents to request that they leave the program as well. While that was happening, an “altercation” broke out that was quickly resolved, according to the statement.

In a statement Tuesday morning on their Facebook page, SC Youth ChalleNGe officials said “we would like to assure you that your candidate/cadet is safe.”

In that Facebook post, the official said case managers with the program were “making courtesy calls to all guardians” and “if your candidate had been injured, you would have received a call.”

In another Facebook message posted around 2:30 p.m., SC Youth ChalleNGe Director LaToya Reed again said all cadets were safe, adding that the problem was caused by social media posts .

“It has come to our attention that a message was posted on social media about the safety of our soon-to-be cadets. We are only in the second week and this is a typical reaction of teenagers who will do and say anything to get home” , Reed said. “We expect this type of behavior so it’s not new to us, but it can be alarming for you as a parent and for the community. I can assure you that the children are safe and we are dealing with the same behaviors as any other school or program has to manage when it comes to teenagers.”

Reed said SC Youth ChalleNGe has been around for 25 years, “changing and building successful young citizens.”

Teens ages 16 to 18 are eligible for SC Youth ChalleNGe, which targets high school dropouts, potential dropouts or students who have been expelled, according to the program’s website.

Cadets must be free from the use of illegal drugs or substances, alcohol and tobacco products during the program, and will be tested. Additionally, cadets may not be on probation or parole (for crimes other than juvenile status), awaiting sentencing, not under indictment or charges, or convicted of a crime that is considered a felony if charged as an adult, according to the website.

“This job isn’t easy, but it’s worth it when it comes to saving lives,” Reed said. “Our program doesn’t help every child, but it does and has helped many young people across the state of South Carolina.”

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