Aiken man charged in 2018 disturbance at local school involving machete

January 12, 2019

An Aiken man was charged Wednesday in connection with a 2018 incident involving a suspect armed with a machete outside Tall Pines STEM Academy on Camp Long Road.

Joseph Sean Poole, 45, of Vanderbilt Drive, is charged with two counts of threatening the life, person or family of a public official; disturbing schools; carrying weapons on school property; obtaining non-ferrous metals; and malicious injury to a telephone, according to jail records.

He is also on a hold for Edgefield County, records show.

On March 29, 2018, Aiken County Sheriff’s Office deputies responded to Tall Pines STEM Academy around 3:25 p.m. in reference to a call about a suspicious man with a machete watching students play outside, according to the report.

Upon arrival, the director of the charter school bus met with investigators and pointed toward the area where the suspect was last seen, the report states.

The incident also caused officials to put the school on a hard lock-down while the investigation was underway, police reported.

The suspect was first observed staring at the children playing outside. This suspicious behavior caused the director to approach the man in an attempt to ask him to leave the premises of the school, but the suspect became angry, according to the report.

During their brief conversation, the suspect started to use profanity and presented a machete, which the director claimed was at least 3 inches in length, the report states.

The director claimed he started backing away from the suspect, who in turn started walking away from the school, the report states.

School officials were notified of the situation and they went outside and found the suspect leaning against a tree on the property, according to the report.

The suspect was again asked to leave the area, which caused him to become noticeably angry, the report states.

The school’s facility director claimed he observed the machete in the suspect’s belt, as the suspect was standing approximately 50 yards from the school building, the report states.

The suspect started looking into the woodline before taking off into the forest on foot. Two school officials told deputies they followed behind the suspect, at which point, he came back toward them, holding out the machete and threatened to harm them, according to the report.

One official told police he recognized the suspect as having been on the property a few days prior from a recording taken from a trail cam video, the report stated.

Deputies established a perimeter to search the wooded areas next to the school building, but were unable to locate the suspect.

The Aiken County Bloodhound Tracking team was also called out to the scene to help track the suspect.

Following an investigation, investigators believe Poole to be the suspect involved in the school disturbance and warrants were issued for his arrest.

Poole was arrested Wednesday and taken to the Aiken County detention center, where he was still being held Friday afternoon.

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