Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott, right, and Councilmember Gretchen Barron...

Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott, right, and Councilmember Gretchen Barron speak at a news conference on Monday, Sept. 25, 2023 in Columbia, S.C. Credit: AP/James Pollard

COLUMBIA, S.C. — A 14-year-old suspect has been arrested in connection with a weekend shooting over a yearslong squabble that left three teenagers dead and another injured in the capital city of South Carolina, officials said Tuesday.

The youth joins two 17-year-old suspects, all charged with three counts of murder and one of attempted murder, according to the Richland County Sheriff's Department. The two older boys will be tried as adults, according to the department, and a judge will decide whether the 14-year-old's case stays in juvenile court.

Two people opened fire Sunday afternoon outside an abandoned house, killing three Eau Claire High School students and wounding a fourth middle schooler, 14, according to officials. The two older suspects attended the same high school as the three deceased victims, whose ages ranged from 16 to 17 years old. The 14-year-old suspect went to the same middle school as the lone survivor, according to Deputy Veronica Hill, a public information officer for the sheriff's department.

Sheriff's deputies responded to the shooting in Columbia just after 2 p.m. Sunday, the department said. The shooters continued firing as they followed the fleeing victims toward the backyard, according to a redacted incident report. The attack marked the escalation of a “beef” that authorities say began two years ago with a burglary.

The department is not sharing details on each suspect’s alleged level of involvement, but all three people arrested are considered “culpable” and acted in concert, Hill told The Associated Press.

The three high schoolers died at the hospital and the middle school student has been released, the department said.

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