(Columbia) - Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott says his officers uncovered a plot to have a gang fight at a public event.
According to Lott, the plot was conceived by local members of the Crip gang and four Marines stationed in Beaufort. The Marines are believed to have ties to the gang as well.
An incident report says one of the suspects told deputies the plot involved a fight outside an Irmo High School football game this Friday. However, a spokesperson for Lexington-Richland Five says no football activity has been planned for this Friday night.
Lott says the local community in the Bonnie Forest, Pinewood, and Pinevalley community let them know the group was meeting on Sunday at the Pine Grove Community Center. Officers raided the place and took the suspects into custody without incident.
In all, 18 people were taken into custody.
One gun was found inside. Most of the suspects are now charged with trespassing, although one, 22-year-old Jermel Matthias, is facing a weapons charge. More charges could be coming.
Those arrested have been identified as the following: 22-year-old Jermel Matthias, 20-year-old Shavon Striggles, 20-year-old Marcus Lofton, 20-year-old Carlos Downing, 19-year-old Jeffery Curry, 17-year-old Corey Byrd, 18-year-old Jonathan Lykes, 17-year-old Dominique Foxworth, 17-year-old Kenneth McClain, 17-year-old Lamar Dixon, 18-year-old Patrick Stephens, and 19-year-old Simeon Miller. All the other suspects are too young to be identified.
Click here to see the sheriff department's media gallery of the suspects.
Matthias, Striggles, Lofton, and Downing were all members of the Marine Corps.
It's not yet clear what the group wanted to do beyond fighting, or what group they were going there to fight with.
According to investigators, the Marines and the local gang members met on the Internet site 'myspace.com.' Lott says it's alarming that a member of the armed forces could also be in a gang.
"It scares me," says Lott. "They've got training."
Investigators say the Marine station in Beaufort is helping them with the case.
Lott praised the community for their efforts. He said they're an example of what needs to happen to stop gang activity.
"Get educated, take a stand," says Lott. "The community is watching."