ROCK HILL — U.S. Rep. Mick Mulvaney was speaking to students at Rock Hill High School Monday morning when a parent spotted a suspicious item outside the school, prompting police and the bomb squad to swarm the campus and block off a nearby road, police say.
A security detail escorted Mulvaney, R-Indian Land, away from the campus once the device was deemed to not be a threat, according to a York County Sheriffs Office report.
Police do not believe Mulvaney was targeted, sheriffs spokesman Trent Faris said. His being at the school at the same time the device was found was a coincidence.
At about 9 a.m., sheriffs deputies and Rock Hill police blocked off Springdale Road after a parent reported what appeared to be an iPod sitting on top of one of the rocks that line the street about 25 yards away from the school, Faris said.
A school resource officer found the item, which was wrapped in tape with two green wires protruding from it, according to the report.
Deputies and the SRO checked the schools perimeter, hallways and parking lots for anything unusual or out of place, the report states.
No bomb threats or threats of any kind were made against Rock Hill High School, the officer wrote in the report.
Still, Principal Ozzie Ahl instructed staff and teachers to keep students in classrooms and restrict their movement.
A sergeant with the Rock Hill Police bomb squad determined that the device was not an iPod, but seven 9-volt batteries taped together with a green wire stretching from one end of the device to the other, the report states. The bomb squad used an X-ray emitter to determine that the device wasnt an explosive.
The case is still under investigation, Faris said, and police are unsure who might have planted the device or why.
The situation was a first for Mulvaney, the congressman said, but he and his staff are trained on how to handle such crises.
While speaking with at least 60 juniors and seniors in a town-hall meeting about basic civics, Mulvaney said, his deputy chief of staff handed him a note instructing him to drag the speech out a bit longer and speak a little slower.
Once he was done speaking and the students were dismissed, Mulvaney learned what had happened.
I dont think anybody felt like there was any risk, he said. We didnt want to alert the kids.
Mulvaney said officers led him and his staff out a side exit away from the schools main entrance. He then drove his personal car to his next meeting at the Rock Hill Galleria, escorted by a sheriffs deputy, he said.
It was very professionally handled, Mulvaney said. I dont think I felt I was at risk.