Incident report reveals details of gunfire heard by crowded during annual Battle of the Bands


AIKEN COUNTY, S.C. (WJBF) – WJBF NewsChannel 6 is taking a closer look at the details of a shooting near Midland Valley High School’s stadium just before a band competition.

We first told you about a private security company, Powell Asset Protection Agency, that responded to a house where an off-duty Aiken County deputy was target shooting.

The company’s license was suspended by South Carolina Law Enforcement Division after allegations of gross misconduct and abuse of authority by the Aiken County Sheriff’s Office.

The initial incident report was filed as a disturbance. It was approved on September 26th, 2 days after the Battle of the Bands.

“When SLED is asked to investigate, you do not give those [incident reports] out?” Asked NewsChannel 6’s Stefany Bornman.

“We stay out of the investigation until they are complete,” said Aiken County Sheriff Michael Hunt.

Sheriff Hunt says he cannot comment on any open cases being investigated by the SLED.

Hunt says the decision to get SLED involved was due to a conflict of interest, since one the people shooting was off-duty deputy Michael Hawthorn.

It took WJBF NewsChannel 6 several weeks to obtain the incident report. WJBF NewsChannel 6 asked for it from SLED, but we were told to get it from the Aiken County Sheriff’s Office. After the Sheriff’s Office refused to give it to us, we got it from another source.

The incident report states an Aiken County deputy responded to Midland Valley High School in reference to shots fired near the stadium, where a band concert was being held.

Several written statements obtained by WJBF NewsChannel 6 show patrons of the concert were shaken up by the incident.

One person said, “her husband could hear the gunfire over the 160-piece band that was playing right next to him.”

Another person wrote, “that he has run the contest for the past 17 years, and has never heard gunshots from the woods.”

The narrative continues on to say the officer was told by an agent, of the security company, that multiple people were shooting in the area of Pride Avenue, behind the school.

The concert was taking place at the Midland Valley High School stadium, and the deputy as well as agents responded to 50 Pride Avenue.

WJBF NewsChannel 6 has learned from the school property line to private property line its less than 300 feet.

In a letter to the security company, SLED says the security guards are accused of pointing weapons at the residents.

The Aiken County Sheriff’s Office incident report says when deputies arrived at the home, on Pride Avenue, they could not determine whether Powell Asset Protection agents pointed their weapons at anybody, or whether anybody was held at gunpoint.

The investigating deputies determined no laws were broken and the shooters were shooting in a safe direction.

However, in a story we aired on October 14th a spokesperson for the security company said the shots were fired in the direction of the school.

“This is very serious,” said Powell Asset Protection spokesperson Stuart Prettel. “Somebody could have gotten killed here and these guys ran into the gun fire to find out what was going on.”

SLED is currently investigating whether any crime was committed.

As part of the investigation, SLED investigators are looking at whether the security company violated any procedures or regulations.

The company’s license will remain suspended during the investigation.Count on WJBF NewsChannel 6 to bring you the latest on this developing story. 

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