SC boy accused of shooting a student when he was 12 is charged as adult, pleads not guilty

It was almost exactly two years ago that 12-year-old Jamari Cortez Bonaparte Jackson was fatally shot as he walked in the hallway of his middle school in Greenville.

His accused killer, also then 12, Jordan Williams Jr. pleaded not guilty to murder Thursday in General Sessions Court, where he will be tried as an adult. Now 14, he was indicted earlier this month.

Thirteenth Judicial Circuit Judge Jessica A. Salvini moved the case from Family Court to General Sessions based on the need for rehabilitation and protection of the community.

Jackson died March 31, 2022 after being shot in the chest while at Tanglewood MIddle School.

His family pressed for the suspect to be tried as an adult. They have filed a civil lawsuit against the Greenville County School District and Williams’ father, alleging Williams should not have been in school on that day with his record of misbehavior.

“GCSD is responsible for the supervision, security, and well-being of the students who attend Tanglewood Middle School,” the lawsuit said. “It has regularly failed to do so.”

The lawsuit also said Williams had a history of bullying and violence.

When the shooting happened, the family released a statement saying, “We are all devastated by today’s tragedy. We love Jamari dearly.”

The suspect has been held at the Department of Juvenile Justice in Columbia since his arrest.

Williams was arrested while hiding under a deck at a house close to the school about an hour after the shooting.

The gun used in the shooting was recovered there as well.

The process to try a juvenile as an adult is lengthy and involves evaluation of the child and consideration of the seriousness of the charge. Safety of the child and the public are considered, state law says.

South Carolina law says a juvenile of any age may be tried as an adult if the charge is murder.