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Hephzibah High School Students Arrested for Fighting Over Posted Photo

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On the same morning that gunfire created chaos at Lucy C. Laney High School, multiple students across town were taking a trip to the Richmond County Jail following a fight.

The fight erupted Monday morning at Hephzibah High School where officers were alerted to a physical altercation in front of the JROTC classroom. Multiple students were engaged in the altercation, authorities said.

The students were separated, and authorities discovered the group was fighting over a photo that was sent in a group chat. Several students were arrested, including seven people charged as adults with affray and booked into the Charles B. Webster Detention Center. Several juveniles were also charged and released to their parents. An additional student, 18-year-old Christopher Gillam, is wanted for affray, but has not been taken into custody.

Those charged as adult with affray include Ahstaria Norman, 17, Jonah Purnell, 18, De’vonta Dowdell, 18, and Justin Allen, 18, Ja’Qai Maxwell, 17, Daniel Thompson, 17, and Rico Laston.

The large-scale arrests were never mentioned to parents in a principal letter, according to a search of released letters on the school district’s website. And no press release was issued.

The same morning, gunfire inside a bathroom at Lucy C. Laney High School created chaos Monday morning and led to the detention of the two juveniles involved.

Richmond County Sheriff’s deputies swiftly responded to a report of a shot fired. Brief lockdowns were initiated at the school, as well as at neighboring A. R. Johnson Health Science and Engineering Magnet School and C.T. Walker Magnet School.

Greg Rickabaugh
Greg Rickabaugh
Greg Rickabaugh is an award-winning crime reporter in the Augusta-Aiken area with experience writing for The Augusta Chronicle, The Augusta Press and serving as publisher of The Jail Report. Rickabaugh is a 1994 graduate of the University of South Carolina and has appeared on several crime documentaries on the Investigation Discovery channel.
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