Dec 4, 2012 No Comments ›› Pat Dollard
LIBERTY, S.C. – A Santa’s Workshop helper has been arrested and charged with making a threat against South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley.
Liberty police say 46-year-old Jennifer Phillips was arrested Tuesday and charged with threatening a public official.
A district spokesman says Phillips – who was a volunteer with the Santa’s Workshop program at the school – made the remark to a school employee around 8:30 a.m. Tuesday.
According to an incident report obtained by WSPA, Phillips said, “I’m going to smuggle a gun in and kill this Governor.”
Pickens County School District spokesman John Eby says Phillips is a parent volunteer at Liberty Elementary, where Haley was scheduled to speak Tuesday morning. Eby says Phillips made a remark to a staff member about harming the governor, and school officials called police.
Liberty Elementary School principal, Lowell Haynes, made the decision to call police. Haynes said, “I felt like I had to take it seriously and report it to law enforcement. It’s not up to me to decide whether there was any intent there or not, that’s up to law enforcement to do so I turned it over to them.”
Phillips was arrested before Haley’s arrival, which was scheduled for 10 am.
Haley’s stop at the school was to talk with third through fifth graders about leadership and bullying prevention.
Later, Haley told reporters the threat was just another part of the job.
“When you make decisions, you make some people happy and you make some people upset,” Haley said. “There are some people who take it a little bit further, and that is part of my job is to deal with it.”
The news traveled fast to parents, who talked about the incident as they picked their children up Tuesday afternoon. “You have to watch what you say,” said grandparent Judy Hood. “It is a little scary.”
Parent Joe Whelchel said, “I wish they would have a little bit more strict guidelines about who’s with kids here. They should screen for character.”
As of Tuesday afternoon, Phillips was being held at the Pickens detention center awaiting a bond hearing at 5:30 p.m.