The Newberry Police have just charged four Newberry College students following a prank that involved the exploding of three homemade pressure devices on campus Tuesday night and Wednesday. The four students are now in custody.
They all face the state charge of possession and manufacturing a destructive device: 18-year-old Christopher Lindsey Hopkins of Winnsboro; 18-year-old Jordon Alexander Belton of Ridgeway; 20-year-old Brandon Jarrod King of Elgin; and 19-year-old Steven Bell of Columbia. Bell is also charged with simple possession of marijuana.
The pressure bombs were made from toilet bowl cleaner and aluminum foil.
Newberry Police Chief Jacky Swindler says no federal charges have been filed. “The FBI and ATF both came to the scene due to the potential magnitude of these kinds of offenses. Of course any such situation following 9-11 causes attention and concern and tells people that it’s not advisable to do this kind of thing. Federal authorities did participate in the investigation. But at this time it appears that no federal charges will be filed. And quite frankly, these state charges are quite serious.”
Newberry College student Jenna Lions says students and the community soon learned it was just a prank. “It’s a small community. The college supports the community and the community supports the college. It’s a safe town and we don’t expect things like this. But it will continue to be a safe town. That’s not going to elevate caution around here.”
Swindler and Lions talked with Jimmy Coggins at SCRN affiliate WKDK.
Lions says at first a lot of students were frightened because they thought they heard gunshots and feared the worst. “They thought it was a crazed gunman. But residence life directors calmed us down. The school took the right steps. A lot of students are now amused with the situation because this sort of thing is not supposed to happen in Newberry. They’re excited that Newberry is on the news.”