(Tribune News Service) — Several teenagers who are participants in a youth academy housed at an area military base were hospitalized after a riot on Tuesday, officials said.

The incident involved members of the South Carolina Youth ChalleNGe program at the McCrady Training Center, U.S. National Guard Major Gen. Van McCarty said Tuesday night at a news conference. The facility is on Leesburg Road near U.S. 601.

The incident was called “riots” by the Richland County Sheriff’s Department.

At the news conference, McCarty said “the situation is currently under control.”

The major general did not provide specifics on what happened, but said multiple law enforcement agencies responded to the National Guard training center, including the Fort Jackson Military Police. McCrady is adjacent to Fort Jackson.

Several cadets in South Carolina Youth ChalleNGe were taken to an area hospital “for treatment and observation,” McCarty said. Information about the number of cadets who were injured and their conditions was not available.

In a Tuesday morning statement on its Facebook page, South Carolina Youth ChalleNGe officials said “we would like to assure you that your candidate/cadet is safe.”

In that Facebook post, the official said case managers with the program were “making courtesy calls to all guardians,” and “if your candidate had been injured, you would have received a call.”

Several people identifying themselves as parents of cadets commented on the program’s Facebook page after 8 p.m. that they had not been notified about the status and safety of their children.

At his 8:30 p.m. news conference, McCarty said “parents are currently being notified of the incident.”

“The South Carolina National Guard will fully cooperate, and support an investigation of the incident,” McCarty said. “We are committed to ensuring that our cadets are safe at all times.”

In another Facebook message posted at about 2:30 p.m., South Carolina Youth ChalleNGe Director LaToya Reed again said all cadets were safe, adding that the issue was caused by posts on social media.

“It came to our attention that a message was posted on social media regarding the safety of our soon to be cadets. We are only in our second week and this is a typical reaction of teenagers who will do and say anything to get back home,” Reed said. “We expect this kind of behavior, so it’s not new to us, but it can be alarming to you as a parent and to the community. I assure you that the kids are safe and we are dealing with the same behaviors any other school or other program has to manage when it comes to teenagers.”

Reed said South Carolina Youth ChalleNGe has been in existence for 25 years, “changing and building successful young citizens.”

Teenagers from 16-18 years old are eligible for South Carolina Youth ChalleNGe, which is geared toward high school dropouts, potential dropouts, or students who have been expelled, according to the program’s website.

Cadets are required to be free from the illegal use of drugs or substances, alcohol and tobacco products during the program, and will be tested. Additionally, cadets cannot be on parole or probation (for other than juvenile status offenses), awaiting sentencing, not under indictment or charges, or convicted of a crime that is considered a felony if charged as an adult, according to the website.

“This work is not easy, but it is worth it when it comes to saving lives,” Reed said. “Our program does not help every child, but it does and has helped many young people throughout the state of South Carolina.”

When contacted Wednesday with questions seeking to clarify the incident, a spokesperson for the S.C. National Guard said, “Our statement is the same from last night … as we work to get further information.”

©2023 The State.


Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

(South Carolina Youth ChalleNGe Academy/Facebook)

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