ROCK HILL — Police do not believe an unknown assailant dressed in black shot a Clinton College student outside Rock Hills Emmett Scott Recreation Center Thursday afternoon, authorities said Friday.
Police are still working to determine what happened at the Crawford Road community center, where a man, 21, said a gunman tried to rob him and shot him in the leg.
Investigators have not been able to speak with the victim, because he is still undergoing medical procedures, said Executive Officer Mark Bollinger, spokesman for the Rock Hill Police Department. Evidence shows there was not a robbery attempt and no unknown assailant, as initially reported, he said.
Police hope to match statements made by the victim and details offered by a friend who apparently witnessed the incident.
Until officers can speak with the victim, we would only be speculating as to what occurred, Bollinger said. We are confident at this time there is no danger to the community.
Police found a gun in a field on nearby Carroll Street Thursday after several officers, investigators, detectives and a K9 unit swarmed the recreation centers parking lot. Police believe it was used in the shooting.
There are still a lot of unanswered questions in this case, Bollinger said, and we hope to clear them all up once we are able to speak to the victim.
When investigators arrived at the recreation center, they found the victim on the ground complaining of a gunshot wound to the leg, according to a police report.
The victim told police a man wearing a black hooded sweatshirt ambushed him from behind, pushed him to the ground and searched his front pockets, the report states.
The victim, who police said was originally from Ohio, told police he heard a gunshot and realized he had been shot in the leg, the report states.
Paramedics took the victim, who told authorities he was a Clinton College student, to Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte. He told officers that a friend of his picked him up from the college and took him to the recreation center, where children were playing in the adjacent park and senior citizens were exercising inside.
That friend, also a Clinton College student, gave police a statement, Bollinger said. On Friday, investigators interviewed the victim again and were working to determine if the victims and friends stories matched.
Emmett Scott staff members told police the man went to the center to ask about volunteer and part-time employment opportunities. After speaking with them, he went out to the parking lot. Thats when employees heard a gunshot, the report states.
Police will have to speak with the victim to determine if he had a gun while in the center, Bollinger said. The shooting did not involve the Clinton College campus, which is a short walk from the recreation center, nor was it related to an incident at Emmett Scott several weeks ago. People inside the recreation center were never in danger, he said.
Thursdays shooting, reported to police at about 3 p.m., shouldnt mar attempts to enhance perceptions of the Emmett Scott Recreation Center, located in Rock Hills Crawford Road South neighborhood, community leaders said Friday.
The neighborhood saw the ninth-highest rate of violent crime last year, according to city records. Seven violent crimes were reported there in 2012, records show, compared to 29 in South Central, which had the highest rate of violent crime last year.
For years, the Emmett Scott center has fought the stigma that its a hub for shootings, fights, robberies and crime, said the Rev. C.T. Kirk, pastor of Sanctuary of Life Outreach Center. Those perceptions are wrong and those incidents are isolated, he said, and they happened around Emmett Scott, but not inside.
When similar incidents happen on Annafrel Street or in the Boyd Hill neighborhood, people dont attach a stigma to the Northside and Boyd Hill recreation centers there, he said.
But Emmett Scott, built in the 1950s as an all-black school, then converted into a community center after desegregation, has always been perceived differently, he said.
Theres not enough positive publicity for the center, which holds after-school, tutoring, praise dancing, athletic, anti-gang, anti-drug and theater programs six days a week, Kirk said.
Many people dont want to go to Emmett Scott because they think they will be robbed, he said, adding that he has even met pastors reluctant to visit the area. He said its not uncommon that hes the only pastor walking around at Emmett Scott events.
Weve worked so hard to get Emmett Scott brought up to par like the other neighborhood centers so children can go down there and be safe, said Josephine Jordan, a 1959 Emmett Scott graduate and president of the Emmett Scott-ites a group of former students and teachers. Were working so hard to improve it for the children.
Someone with a gun at the center is just the time that were living in, she said. I still feel like its a safe environment and (the shooting is) an isolated incident.
We cannot control what people do, she said. They carry guns in schools now. People are shooting all over Rock Hill...all over the world. We can have meetings after meetings. We just dont have the answer.
Finding that answer will take collaboration between churches and residents, Kirk said. There was a time, he said, when neighbors rallied together, participated in neighborhood watches and cooperated with law enforcement. He hopes to see residents take over their neighborhood again.
Getting that message to people will have to come from where most of them are on Sunday mornings, he said. The pulpit.