SC

Midlands Watch: Knife Attack Raises Concerns About Courthouse Security

And law enforcement transparency …

To hear the mainstream media tell it, a woman was arrested earlier this month after she held a knife to the throat of a female staffer at the Richland County courthouse in downtown Columbia, South Carolina on March 10, 2022.

Wait a minute … how did a knife-wielding woman get through courthouse security with a metallic weapon?

That’s an excellent question … one Richland County sheriff Leon Lott (whose deputies are responsible for providing security at three main county courthouse facilities) has thus far been unable to answer.

A much better question? What happened to the woman allegedly “arrested” in connection with this attack …

Was she actually arrested?

(Via: FITSNews/ YouTube)

According to my sources, mainstream media reports of the alleged arrest of the yet-to-be-identified assailant are not only grossly exaggerated, they are straight up “fake news.”

“Richland County deputies say a person has been arrested after they held a woman at knife point at the Richland County courthouse,” Marcus Flowers of WACH TV-57 (Fox – Columbia, S.C.) reported. “The person has been arrested in connection with aggravated assault, which is a felony.”

Another report regurgitated this false narrative.

“Authorities have placed a woman in custody after witnesses say she held a knife to another woman’s throat at the Richland County Court House on Thursday,” Christopher Buchanan of WLTX TV-19 (CBS – Columbia, S.C.) reported.

The problem with these reports? The woman who allegedly perpetrated this attack was never arrested. Nor does it appear she was ever handcuffed or formally detained in connection with the attack. In other words, the “charges” referenced in the aforementioned media reports are purely aspirational.

“Her name is redacted (in the report) because they have no clue what her name is,” a source familiar with the case told me earlier this week. “And they have no clue what her name is because they never arrested her.”


According to a statement obtained by this news outlet, the female staffer was returning to her office on the fourth floor of the courthouse – located at 1701 Main Street in downtown Columbia – at approximately 3:40 p.m. EST on the date in question. The staffer had noticed the female suspect “sitting on a chair … on and off throughout the day.”

“I initially didn’t think anything of it however it is not typical to see people sitting in the area that she was in,” the victim told Richland County sheriff’s department investigators.

“I was coming back from the restrooms and going back to my office,” the victim continued. “I didn’t see the lady sitting over there anymore, I then felt someone grab me in a choke hold from behind. I felt their other hand attempting to hit or hurt me in some way. Instinctually I pushed her away with my left elbow. I would estimate it was that it was several seconds that she had me by the neck.”

As the victim was attempting to get away from the suspect, the fourth floor elevator door opened and assistant attorney general Jerrod Fussnecker disembarked.

“I see these two women standing super close to each other and what sounds like some kind of argument, and I am just trying to figure out what’s happening,” Fussnecker told me. “As I walked toward them, they each took a step to the side and I saw one of the women had a knife at her side.”

At this point, the woman – still brandishing the knife – yelled “I’m not going to f*cking prison.”

Fussnecker quickly escorted the victim back into her fourth floor clerk of court office and instructed her to call security.

“I followed (the victim) into the clerk’s office to make sure she was okay, (keeping) my eyes on the woman with the knife,” Fussnecker told me.

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According to Fussnecker, the woman with the knife later told him “I should have stabbed her deep (and) good,” referring to the victim.

Deputies eventually arrived on the scene and the woman surrendered the knife to them. However, she was never arrested.

“The investigator has told me they are still searching for her,” Fussnecker told me.

How does that happen? I mean, regular readers of this news outlet are well aware that being arrested for a violent crime in South Carolina invariably means you are released back onto the streets almost immediately … but this time Richland County deputies didn’t even go through the motions.

Fussnecker has provided deputies with a cell phone video of the woman he took in the aftermath of the incident to aid them in their attempts to apprehend her.

Earlier today, I reached out to Lott’s office in an effort to understand how a woman could have smuggled a knife into the Richland County courthouse. Seriously, don’t they have metal detectors? Scanners? Just as importantly, I asked Lott’s office if the sheriff could explain why his deputies failed to arrest a woman who allegedly assaulted a court official with a knife.

While I await those responses, Richland County clerk of court Jeannette McBride issued a statement in the aftermath of the incident praising the “the quick responses of our staff and the Richland County sheriff’s deputies who were on duty at the courthouse.”

Really?

“The clerk’s office and the Richland County sheriff’s department work closely together to provide the safest environment possible at the Courthouse by prohibiting weapons on-site, screening all visitors, utilizing physical barriers and smart technology, training our employees on best safety practices, and staffing each floor and courtroom with deputy sheriffs and bailiffs during all hours in which the courthouse operates,” McBride continued.


Sounds like that “safest possible environment” isn’t all that safe …

McBride did say her office was “reviewing its current safety protocols” in the aftermath of this incident “to ensure that the courthouse continues to provide the safest environment for all those who work, conduct business and seek services therein.”

Hopefully that means keeping knife-wielding maniacs will no longer be granted access to the building. At the very least, though, hopefully it will mean these knife-wielding maniacs would be arrested in the event they threatened the life of any court officials.

Given Richland County’s legacy of incompetence though, that might be too much to ask …

Also, Lott frankly owes the citizens of Richland County an apology for not correcting the “fake news” narrative about what really transpired at the courthouse earlier this month. His deputies dropped the ball in this case, and while that may be embarrassing from a public relations standpoint – the public deserves to know that this alleged assailant remains at large.

I am not accusing Lott and his staff of lying to the press, but it is abundantly clear they have failed to promote public safety by informing the public about what really happened in this instance.

UPDATE: Suspect sought in knife attack …

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR …

(Via: FITSNews)

Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven children. Oh, he also has LOTS of hats … but has given them up for Lent this year.

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