School district mourns Richland County teen who was killed a week before graduating

·3 min read

The Richland 1 School District is mourning the death of a student.

Bertrand T. Ganaway III, a 17-year-old Columbia resident, was killed Saturday in a shooting.

The Eau Claire High School senior was a week away from graduation, according to Richland 1.

“We are at a loss for words. We have lost another one of our students to senseless gun violence,” Richland 1 Superintendent Dr. Craig Witherspoon said in a news release. “Troy Ganaway, who was a senior at Eau Claire High School, was killed Saturday. Instead of preparing to celebrate his high school graduation next week, Troy’s family and friends are mourning his death.”

At about 5 p.m. Saturday, deputies responded to reports of a shooting in the 300 block of Saddletrail Road, and found a Ganaway as well as an 18-year-old had been shot, according to the Richland County Sheriff’s Department. Both teens were taken to an area hospital where Ganaway died, the sheriff’s department said.

Further information on the condition of the 18-year-old, or if the teen is a high school student, was not available.

There is no word on a shooter, or shooters, or a motive for the gunfire.

The school district’s crisis team was at the high school on Monticello Road in Columbia Monday, offering support and counseling to students and staff, Witherspoon said.

“We ask that the community keep Troy’s family and the students and staff at Eau Claire in your prayers,” Witherspoon said.

Members of the Eau Claire High community recently had to deal with the death of another student.

On May 5, Shaneal Brown, an 18-year-old Eau Claire High School student, and her 83-year-old grandmother Jessie Brown, were killed by her father Rafael Brown, 44, according to the sheriff’s department.

In April, fellow Richland 1 students De’Marion Corbett, 16, and Desmond Wilson, 17, were killed in a shooting.

On Monday, a 15-year-old Lower Richland High School student was arrested after he was found with a loaded gun on campus, the sheriff’s department said. It was the second time in the past three months a Lower Richland High student brought a gun to the school.

No one was hurt in either incident at Lower Richland High.

But all of these incidents have prompted the school district to call for change to help stop gun violence.

“We are saddened and alarmed about the recent series of incidents in which young people, including some of our students in Richland 1, have lost their lives due to gun violence. This issue is not a school or district issue; it is a community issue,” Witherspoon and Richland 1 School Board Chairwoman Cheryl Harris said in a combined statement. “We will continue to work with law enforcement, City Council and County Council, our legislative delegation and other elected officials, as well as the faith community, as we take a stand and call for an end to the violence.”

Even though the school year is ending, Witherspoon and Harris said the district is continuing to focus on conflict resolution skills and strategies, and they will expand mentoring programs for next year.

Over the summer, Richland 1 said it will offer programs and camps throughout the district for students at all grade levels to keep them engaged academically in a safe, structured environment.

“We ask our parents to talk to their children about making good choices and staying away from any activity involving guns,” Witherspoon and Harris said. “We encourage our students to talk with their parents and caring adults at our schools if they have issues or concerns.”

Richland 1 Superintendent Craig Witherspoon
Richland 1 Superintendent Craig Witherspoon
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