UPDATE: Northside school put on very short lockout Tuesday due to police action in West Columbia
West Columbia, SC (Paul Kirby) – Northside Middle School was placed on a short lockout Thursday after two wrecks occurred in West Columbia near the school. These brought heavy police action to the area and a traffic tangle at a key intersection right about the time school was dismissing. The SRO and school’s administration placed the lockout at the school and then lifted it within moments. It was originally done out of an abundance of caution for the school’s students and staff members. There were rumors circulating of shots fired nearby that played a part in this. Those rumors later turned out to be false. The senior West Columbia Police Department supervisor had a great deal of input into getting the lockout lifted and the traffic untangled quickly.
Just before 4:00 p.m., police received reports that a vehicle collision had occurred at Sunset Boulevard and Cougar Drive, the road the school is located on. They requested the fire department respond and reported that multiple lanes of traffic on Sunset Boulevard were closed at that location. That’s when the rumor circulated that shots had been fired in the area of the nearby Goodwill. Those were false according to Assistant Police Chief Scott Morrison. “No shots were fired in the City of West Columbia Thursday that I am aware of,” Morrison said. “I don’t know how that got started but it didn’t happen.” There was also another accident in the area that later turned out to be related to the first one according to the chief.
According to Morrison, Richland County deputies were pursuing a vehicle when they came into West Columbia. At some point, that vehicle caused a crash that West Columbia officers responded to. The SC Highway Patrol was also on the scene. Morrison said he couldn't speak about the chase and the crashes because they involved Richland County vehicles.
Later, the Richland County Sheriff's Department said that they began chasing a suspect on Broad River Road near Bush River Road after the license plate on the car came back as stolen. After they crashed in West Columbia, the vehicle's occupants were involved in a serious crash at Sunset and Cougar that disabled the fleeing vehicle.
Richland County deputies now say that Sean Riley, who was driving the car, is charged with assault, possession of a stolen gun, possession of a stolen car and unlawful carrying of a gun. They've also charged Albert Brisbow with possession of a controlled substance and open container. They say Riley crashed into several other cars during the chase. The pursuit finally ended on Sunset Boulevard after the crash. Riley and Brisbow then fled on foot before being arrested.
West Columbia officer were able to get the roads back open at 5:30 p.m.