The S.C. Board of Juvenile Parole made the decision Wednesday, two days after the teen had his first parole hearing after pleading guilty in April to gun possession.
The decision by four members of the parole board not to grant the juvenile’s release was unanimous, said Toni Vanlue, executive director of the parole board. The teen’s name has not been made public because he was prosecuted as a juvenile.
York police – who urged the parole board Monday to keep the teen jailed, saying he is a threat to national security and to York residents – praised the decision.
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“I am glad that the parole board understood the significance of the threat from this young man,” York Police Chief Andy Robinson said. “Public safety comes first, and we did not want him released because of concerns for public safety.”
York County Sheriff Bruce Bryant agreed that the “parole board got this one right.”
Bryant had assigned Intelligence and Homeland Security Unit supervisor Bob Hamilton from the sheriff’s office to advocate against the early release of the teen. Hamilton, who also is the Sheriff’s Office’s liaison with the FBI, told the parole board Monday that the teen posed a national security risk to the country after York police testified the teen told officers he would have killed any police officer who got in his way.
“Domestic terrorist threats should be taken seriously,” Bryant said. “Our country must do all we can do to prevent attacks on our people.”
When the teen was arrested in February 2015, police say, he admitted to the plan to join ISIS, rob a North Carolina gun store with another radical Muslim, and massacre American soldiers to protest American involvement in the Middle East.
The FBI has refused to comment on the status of the other unnamed man, who lives near Raleigh, N.C.
The teen is an American citizen who has lived for years in York with his family, who are from Syria. The teen’s lawyers said Syrian treatment of its people led to anger that fueled his looking to radicalism but that the teen never carried out the plot to kill anyone. The teen told the parole board Monday he wants to move to the Charleston area when released to work in auto repair.
However, that release won’t happen any sooner than spring or summer. Although the teen was sentenced to juvenile prison up to age 21 when he pleaded guilty, the sentence for the gun charge ends after 18 months, so his release appears to be imminent sometime this year unless new charges are leveled by federal officials.
The teen will be eligible for another parole hearing in three months, Vanlue said.
Andrew Dys: 803-329-4065