NOTE: Unfortunately there is so much to this story that is (and may forever remain) unknown. What is known is that sixteen year old Trevor Varinecz, a student at Carolina Forest High School who had been diagnosed with autism, had asked to see School Resource Officer Marcus Rhodes. Once inside the office, a fight reportedly broke out between the two; the result, a death. Varinecz allegedly stabbed Rhodes multiple times and Rhodes allegedly shot Varinecz five times.
Our thoughts go out to both families as they struggle to come to terms with this tragedy.
Posted October 16, 2009
Updated October 17, 2009
MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - An 11th grade student is dead Friday after stabbing a resource officer who defended himself with gunfire at Carolina Forest High School.
Teal Britton, spokeswoman for Horry County Schools, says the student, identified as Trevor Varinecz, asked to speak with the school resource officer in his office around 8:20 a.m. when a fight between the two ensued. Officials say Varinecz, 16, stabbed the officer multiple times, who returned with gunfire.
Horry County coroner Robert Edge reported Saturday after an autopsy that Varinecz was shot five times. It was also noted that only one shot, which was to the chest, created a life-threatening wound.
Both victims were taken to the Conway Medical Center, where hospital officials confirmed Varinecz died at 9:34 a.m. as a result of multiple gunshot wounds. The school resource officer, identified as Marcus Rhodes, was released from care at 12:30 p.m., hospital spokeswoman Julie Rajotte said.
A neighbor and family friend told WMBF News Varinecz and his parents made a wonderful family. They say the 16-year-old wasn't a trouble maker, but he was a functioning autistic teenager whose parents worked hard to integrate him into normal activities.
WMBF News partner The Myrtle Beach Herald reports Rhodes has been employed with the Horry County Police Department since 2000, serving as a school resource officer at North Myrtle Beach High School before transferring to Carolina Forest High School.
Britton confirmed this was an isolated incident and no one else was injured. The situation was quickly controlled and an investigation was launched by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division.
Carolina Forest High School is equipped with nine metal detectors, the most out of any school in Horry County. Currently, more than 2,000 students attend the high school located on Gardner Lacy Road between Myrtle Beach and Conway.
School officials say the detectors were to be in use Friday, but it is possible Varinecz was not scanned by one. Detectors are placed only in specific areas and entrances to the school. Britton says a lack of manpower makes it "almost impossible" for every student to go through a detector each day.
Horry County School Board member Joe DeFeo says not only is the lack of manpower a problem, but the building's structural layout, as well. The Carolina Forest High School campus is comprised of multiple buildings, all of which are known by students and teachers as "houses."
DeFeo tells WMBF News it is extremely hard to logically place the nine metal detectors due to the multiple entrances to the school. He says over the years, the school's layout has become an issue when it comes to school safety.
"I'm not so sure how you prevent this," said DeFeo. "If a student who you might know says they want to talk to you and then they attack you, I just don't know where you go from there."
"You plan for all the possibilities and this one, I don't think that we could have quite imagined," added Britton. "I don't think even with a metal detector there would have been a way to prevent it."
DeFeo, a former police officer, says the possibilities are endless on how the school district can provide better security to its schools. He suggests the solution could be drawn from putting more officers in schools, installing more metal detectors and even transferring students to make school populations more manageable.
"The options are almost endless," he speculated. "We just need to choose the right one and implement it."
Friday's incident marks the second time in three years a Carolina Forest High School student has died in a violent incident on the school's campus. In June 2006, 18-year-old Natalia Holmes was stabbed 15 times and run over by a vehicle by her estranged boyfriend in the school's parking lot.
A meeting between Horry County School Board members is expected to take place in the upcoming days for officials to review the incident and brainstorm additional security precautions for the school. The topic is up for discussion at Monday evening's school board meeting.