Columbia, SC (STL.News) The Columbia Police Department (CPD) and the Richland County Sheriff’s Department (RCSD) are working with state and federal agencies as part of an investigation to determine the persons responsible for possessing suspicious looking water bottles during recent protests in downtown Columbia.
In the area of Lincoln, Laurel and Richland Streets this weekend, the CPD Bomb Squad located the plastic bottles containing a white milky substance and partially covered in duct tape. The water bottles were safely collected for examination.
Due to the suspicious nature of the bottles, CPD notified the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
The FBI is in the process of testing the substance to determine its components. During a field test at the scene, the contents included a small trace of a substance that can be caustic to the skin. Again, analysis of the contents continues at a federal lab.
Additionally, at least three CPD officers complained of burns, blisters, irritation and redness on their hands and arms consistent with injuries from a caustic or corrosive substance. The officers received medical attention during the hostile protests at CPD HQ on May 30, 2020. CPD along with state and federal partners are working to determine if there is a direct link to the injuries and the bottles.
Columbia Police Chief W.H. ‘Skip’ Holbrook says, “This may suggest evidence of not a spontaneous or peaceful protest but an orchestrated and planned attack against law enforcement. Those who choose violence over peace will continue to be held accountable for their criminal actions.”
“This is just another example of the dangers law enforcement officers face from agitators who are not interested in peace,” Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott says. “It’s inconceivable that anyone would think to harm officers in such a way, considering the dangers it poses to peaceful protesters as well. “Lott added, “Bottles filled with corrosive materials are not instruments of protest. They are instruments that are designed to seriously injure those that serve to protect the right of people to protest. Unfortunately those that chose to peacefully protest rarely see this side of what we face.”
Special note to citizens:
If you come into contact with any abandoned bottles do NOT touch them. Call 9-1-1.
Chief Holbrook and Sheriff Lott encourage citizens with information about the bottles or persons possessing them to contact CRIMESTOPPERS in any of the following ways:CALL toll-free, 888-CRIME-SC.