South Carolina teen Nicholas Ryan Newell was charged with third-degree arson Monday morning after reportedly burning several American Flags at St. James High School.
Police were called to the school around 6:20 a.m. on Monday after they received a call from school officials who reported the burned flags outside the school’s front door, prompting an evacuation and arson investigation.
According to police, glass at the front door had shattered from the fire and some flower pots had been turned over, though damage from Newell’s alleged act was minimal.
The Horry County Bomb Squad was also called after officers watched surveillance footage of Newell in black clothing acting suspiciously. A box was later found by the squad, though it was deemed irrelevant early in the investigation.
By noon, the squad had left the school.
The investigation backed up traffic as parents rushed to pick up their kids from school. Those retrieving kids from the middle school were required to show identification.
Police are investigating into several other flag burnings in the Indigo Creek Subdivision, which they suspect may be related.
According to Ed Breslin, a resident of the neighborhood, he and several of his neighbors woke up on the morning of August 20 to find that their flags had been vandalized.
“I thought somebody should be held responsible for it,” Breslin said. “I thought it was such a disgrace to have a flag torn like that.”
The motive for the flag burning is currently unknown.