4 teens shot dead within hours in small South Carolina city

AP – Four teenagers were shot dead within hours of each other in a small South Carolina city over the weekend, prompting the area high school to switch to virtual learning while officers stepped up patrols, authorities said.

No arrests have been made in the shooting early Sunday in Newberry that killed a 16-year-old and in the deaths of three teens in a shooting that afternoon about a block away in the city of 10,200 people, Newberry Police Chief Chief Kevin Goodman said.

“All the victims are somehow connected. They knew each other. My understanding they were in the same circle,” Goodman said, adding police still are not sure whether the shootings are connected.

The victims in the second shooting were ages 15, 18 and 19, Newberry County Coroner Laura Kneece said. She said autopsies are planned.

One of the people questioned in the first fatal shooting was killed in the second shooting. Goodman said it is too early to determine if retaliation was involved.

“When you really don’t know all the players and what it is stemming from, that’s always a concern,” Goodman said.

Newberry police were patrolling throughout the city about 40 miles (65 kilometers) northwest of Columbia with help from Newberry County deputies and state police.

Newberry High School decided to make Monday an e-learning day, closing campus as a precaution even though no direct threat had been made.

Goodman grew up in the area and has worked in Newberry since 1995. He said he has never had a day like Sunday.

“To the young people of Newberry. We love you and I love you,” Goodman said Monday, pausing several seconds, his voice getting emotional. “And I want nothing but the best for you. I’m here for you and we have to do better.”

Goodman called the victims “my kids” and said he spent time with some of them, trying to mentor them.

“I still go out and try to play a little basketball against them,” the chief said. “I very seldom win. I try to do that, just to keep that relationship. So it’s personal.”

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