Authorities: Teen sneaks loaded gun into SC holding facility

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — A 13-year-old arrested for having a loaded gun at a South Carolina mall apparently sneaked a second loaded weapon into the facility where he was taken, authorities said.

A Columbia Police Department spokesperson called the incident “an egregious failure on many levels,” WLTX-TV reported.

It started Tuesday when the boy and a relative were arrested for having guns at Columbiana Centre Mall. Police said officers did an initial search of the boy and confiscated a loaded, 9mm handgun but they missed another gun he was hiding.

Department of Juvenile Justice Director Eden Hendrick told the television station that when the teen was transferred to their custody hours later, he was patted down, showered and dressed in facility clothes but the second weapon went undetected. It was not until the next day that the second weapon was discovered and later recovered by facility staff, Hendrick said.

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In a statement to WLTX, Columbia Police called the lack of a thorough search by officers “unacceptable” and a risk to public safety. The department says the arresting officers who missed the gun have been put on administrative duty pending completion of training programs.

“This incident represents an egregious failure on many levels, including a violation of policy and procedure,” the police department said in a statement. “This lack of a thorough search is unacceptable and risked public and officer safety.”

Hendrick also said the Department of Juvenile Justice will revamp its intake process and all staff will be retrained on intake, search, and other safety procedures. She added that employees involved in the initial search have been suspended.

In addition to the teen, police also arrested La’Kenyatta Moore-Rhodes, 40. Police said that after reviewing surveillance video, investigators discovered Moore-Rhodes initially had the gun and gave it to the teen.

Police charged the teenager with unlawful gun possession by a minor, unlawful carrying of a gun and pointing and presenting a gun, The State reported. Moore-Rhodes was charged with unlawful carrying, pointing and presenting a gun and contributing to the delinquency of a minor, the newspaper reported.

It was unknown if either of the suspects has an attorney who could comment for them.