Kid brings loaded handgun to Sumter elementary school, Dalzell man arrested


UPDATE:  The school administration contacted Sumter County Sheriff's Office after a teacher found the firearm inside the student's bag, according to Sarvis.

Sumter County deputies arrested a 31-year-old Dalzell man during an investigation into how a 9-year-old Shaw Heights Elementary student brought a firearm to school the morning of Nov. 18.

According to Deputy Adrienne Sarvis, public information officer for the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office, school administration alerted the sheriff’s office after a student informed a teacher the child had the firearm. The teacher found the loaded handgun in the 9-year-old’s bookbag, Sarvis said.

No one was threatened or injured, and Sumter School District has notified parents and guardians who have children attending the school, Sarvis said.

Johnathan Cole claimed possession of the firearm, which was found to be stolen after record checks, and was arrested. Sarvis said he is charged with possession of a stolen firearm.

“I am upset that a child this young would have access to a handgun and would bring it to school,” Sheriff Anthony Dennis said. “Those who own firearms cannot be irresponsible when children are present. We encourage parents, especially those who have firearms at home, to teach their children gun safety. Protecting our local schools is a top priority for our agency, and we ask that parents assist us in that effort by checking students’ bags.”

Cole was transported to the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office Detention Center where he awaits a first appearance hearing.

*Editor's note: This story has been edited to clarify a source error. School administration alerted the sheriff's office about the incident, not the teacher.