YORK CO., SC (WJZY) - Calling it a “terrible” decision, York Police Chief Andy Robinson told FOX 46 News on Wednesday he was shocked and frustrated that the South Carolina Juvenile Parole Board decided to grant parole to a local teenager who had plotted to join ISIS and kill American soldiers.
"Honestly, I was shocked, I thought there was no way I was hearing what I was hearing,” Robinson said. “I just can't see how he's being released back into society at this time.”
As FOX 46 has reported, York police began an investigation into an unnamed boy of Syrian descent, now 17 years old, for having illegally having possession of a gun in February 2015.
During the course of the investigation, authorities found an ISIS flag in the boy’s room, ISIS material on his computer, and he admitted to wanting to travel to Syria, wage jihad, and join ISIS.
The boy later told police he planned to meet with a radical Muslim in Raleigh, rob a gun store, drive to a military base in North Carolina, and kill American soldiers.
“The plot was very elaborate, he was very detailed, he was very forthcoming, he didn't mind telling us that he planned to kill soldiers or police officers or whoever got in his way,” Robinson said.
But because South Carolina has no laws on the books related to juveniles and terrorism, and the FBI investigated but never pressed charges, the boy was only able to be hit with a stage gun charge, and was sentenced to serve the maximum of five years in juvenile prison.
He ended up serving one.
“We're frustrated, the whole process has been frustrating because of the age, because there's no state laws specifically for terrorism that we could charge under, we had to rely on the federal government,” Robinson said. “Going through that bureaucracy is very complicated we've found that any charges for terrorism have to come from Washington, and then the local field offices would have to pursue that, and apparently someone in Washington decided this wasn't worth pursuing or it wasn't in their parameters.”
Robinson told FOX 46 Charlotte he doesn’t know if the boy will still be a threat to society, but said he hopes he has changed his ways.
“I don't know that he's coming back to York, he made comments about wanting to go to Charleston or to start a life down there, but just in general that he's back in society does concern me, there's not resources that can watch him 24 hours a day, seven days per week.”
Robinson said if the boy ends up committing another crime or turns to violence, the parole board will have blood on their hands.
"The board, they know the seriousness of this, we reiterated it, and the first time I went down and spoke to them I told them I was going to do everything in my power to keep him in custody, and keep my community safe, and I feel like I've done everything that I can, so it does fall back on them.”
Robinson said the only way the boy could be taken back into custody, is if he ends up committing another offense, and he would like to see state legislators look at possibly adding terror laws that could apply in cases like these.
"I would like to see them try to figure out a fix, if something like this happened in the future, especially with the juvenile aspect of this incident so someone else doesn't have to go through this, another agency and try to figure out as they go along what to do with this individual.”