Police investigate calls about teens’ strange behavior
A shuttle driver was passing by the intersection at Seven Farms Drive and Etiwan Park Street around 5 a.m. on Monday, July 20, when a teenage girl on the corner caught his attention. She was acting strangely, he would later tell police after calling 911.
“The woman appeared to be distraught,” stated Lt. Byrne, of Team 5 on Daniel Island, referencing what the driver and another caller described to officers. “So the driver…stopped and asked if she was okay. The woman allegedly ran toward the cab and starting yelling and making growling noises like an animal.”
The driver started to drive way, continued Lt. Byrne, and the woman chased after his van, “still yelling and still growling.” An officer and a supervisor soon responded to the scene to check the area. Three teenage girls were located in Etiwan Park across from Bishop England High School, said Lt. Byrne. All appeared to be between the ages of 14 and 16.
“The girls claimed that they were in the area looking for a dog that belonged to one of them,” Lt. Byrne said. “And that they had been yelling for the dog during the search. The officer did not detect any sign of drug or alcohol use during their conversation, calling them lucid and attentive.”
About 45 minutes later, another call came in to police concerning three teenage girls who were reportedly jumping out from behind trees and shrubs and scaring passing vehicles and pedestrians. Police returned to the area but were unable to locate the girls. Later that day, officers determined the identities of two of the girls and planned to investigate the matter further.
A string of comments posted on the Daniel Island Moms Facebook page concerning the incident resulted in speculation that one of the teens may have been under the influence of bath salts, a household product that can be used as a synthetic drug to dramatically alter mood and behavior.
“At this point, we have no specific evidence that drugs of any kind were involved in this activity, let alone something as particular as bath salts,” Lt. Byrne said. “The only girls encountered by the officers who responded to the area were not believed to have been under any influence of drugs.”
Lt. Byrne said it is possible that the officer did not locate and speak to all the girls in the area who may have been involved. He believes the explanation for their behavior could be that it was simply a group of teens enjoying some “mischievous pranks or juvenile games,” but they are not ruling anything out. In the meantime, he encouraged parents to take a keen interest in preventing risky behavior by their children.
“What if a citizen reacted to a perceived threat and defended himself or herself with force? What if someone accidentally struck one of the girls as she jumped out to scare a motorist? What if the girls were using illicit substances that influenced their behavior?…Of parallel interest to us is the safety of the community at large, as we do not want drivers and pedestrians to feel that they cannot move about the island without being the victims of teenagers' pranks, drug-induced mania, or any other unpleasant phenomena.”
Anyone with information that may help police in their investigation is asked to call the Team 5 office at 849-0304 or Charleston County Consolidated Dispatch at 743-7200.