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New safety measures at Lexington/Richland District 5 sporting events

Chapin will play its home opener Friday against Newberry at Cecil Woolbright Field.

It will be the first Lexington/Richland School District Five school to implement new safety measures announced Tuesday.

Among the new rules:

  • The district will now implement handheld metal detectors to screen all spectators, starting with Chapin football and Irmo and Dutch Fork the following week. Both the Yellow Jackets and Dutch Fork are on the road this week.

  • Bags will be subject to searches at designated entry points, in line with state statutes permitting “reasonable search” of any person entering a game.

  • Admission will be charged through the duration of the game.

  • Students in eighth grade or lower must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

  • School resource officers will travel with teams for away games.

The actions are the result of Friday’s incident at W.C. Hawkins Stadium during the fourth quarter of the Dutch Fork/Irmo football game. A verbal disruption in the home stands based on a gun rumor triggered panic among those spectators and  cheerleaders.

A mad dash from the bleacher section caught on Twitter video ensued. As people quickly fled, Richland County deputies helped evacuate the stadium.

Reports stated no gun was found, no shots fired and no arrests.

Following the incident, both head coaches Tom Knotts of Dutch Fork and Reggie Kennedy of Irmo expressed their disappointment in what occurred and concern for their players’ safety.

“My first reaction was I was angry that somebody would bring a gun or whatever the rumor was,” Knotts. “Second, I was worried for the students because I noticed all of our students coming out on our left hand side here. So I headed up with a policeman to see if we could head it off. So my first reaction was just sheer anger and I don’t think I was ever worried.”

"It's bad when you can't go to a football game now and feel safe, on a school campus and feel safe," Kennedy said. "It's real sad. That's what it comes to. But we'll  try to show our parents that we'll do our best to ensure they're in a safe environment."

Dutch Fork travels to Boiling Springs, while Irmo visits Brookland-Cayce. A full story on Friday's incident will appear in this week's Lexington Chronicle.

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