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Police Working University Of South Carolina Suicide

Student reportedly jumps to his death from downtown parking garage …

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Multiple law enforcement agencies are investigating an apparent suicide that took place on the campus of the University of South Carolina (USC) this week.

The apparent suicide – which claimed the life of a yet-to-be-identified male victim- took place at a parking garage on Bull Street in downtown Columbia, S.C. late Tuesday night, according to our sources.

The victim was a student attending the school at the time of his death, we are told.

Sources familiar with the situation tell us the student “jumped off” the top of the multi-level garage – falling to his death below.

There are two university-run parking garages on Bull Street – one near the school’s historic horseshoe campus and the other adjacent to the Thomas Cooper Library.  According to our sources, this incident occurred at the garage adjacent to the library.

Agents of the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) are leading the inquiry into this incident per a 2007 law requiring them to investigate all fatalities “occurring on the property” of institutions of higher learning in the Palmetto State.  SLED is required by the same law (§ 59-154-10) to assist in investigating alleged sexual assaults that occur on South Carolina’s college campuses.

Officers with the USC division of law enforcement were the first to respond to the incident late Tuesday and immediately notified SLED.  Such notification was required by the Jessica Horton Law – a 2007 statute named for former University of South Carolina student Jessica Horton.

In 2002, Horton fell to her death from a sixth-floor dormitory on campus.  Her parents did not believe school police were capable of conducting a proper investigation into her death, and so state senator Vincent Sheheen – who represented them in the S.C. Senate – introduced legislation putting SLED in charge of these inquiries.

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SLED spokesman Thom Berry confirmed the agency’s role in the investigation early Wednesday.

“SLED is investigating a death at the University of South Carolina,” Berry told us.  “Our involvement is in response under the state’s Jessica Horton Act that authorizes SLED to be the lead agency in investigating campus deaths.”

Berry was not immediately prepared to term the student’s death a suicide, although he told us it “appears to be an isolated event.”

“There is no reason for safety concerns by students and employees,” he said.

Developing …

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