AIKEN, S.C. (WJBF) – A local security company is speaking out after SLED suspended its license.
Powell Asset Protection Agency was hired by the Aiken County School Board to provide security for the annual “Battle of the Bands.”
During that event, shots were fired near the school and what happened next lead to the company’s suspension.
The security officers say when they followed the gunfire they found that the person shooting the gun was an off-duty Aiken County deputy.
Private security officers have the same power as deputies, but only in the area they are hired to work. However, in this case the security officers left the school grounds to investigate the gunshots.
Now they say, they can’t understand why their license was suspended and nothing has been done to the off-duty deputy.
In a video obtained by WJBF NewsChannel 6 a high school band is preparing for the annual “Battle of the Bands” at Midland Valley High School. A few minutes into the video you hear gunshots in the background.
Stuart Prettel, a spokesperson for Powell Asset Protection Agency, says the loud gun shots caused an uproar at the high school.
“The people in the stands, the spectators started cowering, started running.” He told WJBF NewsChannel 6. “Some people ran across the field. They were really scared.”
Prettel says almost immediately the security officers went into the line of fire to prevent anyone from getting hurt.
“At one point they had to duck down because the bullets were flying over their heads, towards the school.” Prettel said.
50 Pride Ave. is where the security company employees say they responded to when they heard the gun shots.
WJBF NewsChannel 6 found that’s 1.3 miles from the high school. However, neighbors say that right through the woods behind the house, you’ll run into Midland Valley High School’s football field.
“They approached the person that was shooting. It was ascertained he was an off-duty deputy,” Prettel told WJBF NewsChanenl 6. “At that time he wasn’t shooting at the people directly trying to hurt them or kill them. So the agents went back to Midland Valley.”
At the request of the Aiken County Sheriff’s Office, the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division was asked to investigate the incident.
In this letter to Powell Asset Protection Agency, Sled says the company is being investigated because its officers did not disclose who they were and pointed their weapons at residents, ordering them to stand down.
SLED also says the officers’ badges and law enforcement attire could be misleading and the security officers’ actions demonstrate disregard for the policies, procedures, regulations, and state laws.
Still, Prettel says the agents hired by the private company are retired military or former law enforcement officers and have a vast understanding of the laws in South Carolina.
He says more than that, it was their duty as Americans to save lives.
“This is very serious. Somebody could have gotten killed here and these guys ran into the gun fire to find out what was going on. It sounded likes a machine gun.” He said.
Powell Asset Protection Agency will have its license suspended pending the outcome of SLED’s investigation.
WJBF NewsChannel 6 has tried several times to get the incident report from the Aiken County Sheriff’s Office, but investigators there say we can’t have it until sled finishes its investigation.
Count on WJBF NewsChannel 6 to bring you the latest on this developing story.