Crime & Courts

York parent: Teen who wanted to join ISIS, plotted to kill US soldiers had bullets at school in 2014

School officials in York have launched an investigation after the parent of a high school student told them Wednesday the teen, who admitted to wanting to join the Islamic State and was being lured into a plot to kill American soldiers, had ammunition at the school in the fall of 2014.

The 16-year-old, an American citizen of Syrian heritage, was sentenced Tuesday to juvenile prison until he turns 21 after pleading guilty to a charge of being a minor in possession of a handgun. The investigation by York police and federal agents, which started in February, uncovered the Muslim teen’s radical leanings and connection to an alleged Muslim militant from North Carolina.

The (Rock Hill) Herald has not named the teen because he is a juvenile.

However, Rosa Peeler, the parent of another York Comprehensive High School student, said after reading about the teen’s sentencing she knew who the teen was because she had reported his having ammunition on school grounds last year. Possession of ammunition on school grounds is illegal under the S.C. Safe Schools Act.

“I reported this last year, and it should have been handled and it wasn’t,” Peeler told The Herald on Thursday. “I told them last year. I am upset.”

Peeler talked to school officials Wednesday about the September incident, during which she said the teen showed Peeler’s son the bullets outside the high school’s football stadium. Peeler immediately told a person she believed to be a school employee about the incident, she said, and that employee confronted the teen about the ammunition.

The next day, Peeler said, the teen said the bullets were ammunition for deer hunting, and no action was taken.

York Superintendent Vernon Prosser confirmed Thursday that school administrators have opened an investigation into Peeler’s allegation. It will be difficult to determine who the adult was Peeler talked to last year, he said, or if that person was an employee or a volunteer.

“We do not know who she told,” Prosser said. “We will look into it, and we will deal with it if we are able to find out what happened.”

York Police Lt. Rich Caddell said the police department has no record indicating that police were told about the incident Peeler reported. Police Chief Andy Robinson said Wednesday was the first time he or anyone in his department heard about the incident.

“If we had known about this allegation, we would have acted,” Robinson said.

Andrew Dys •  803-329-4065

Related stories from Charlotte Observer