UPDATED 4/16, 2:15 p.m. ET: Residents of the Summit—Jonathan Pentland’s South Carolina community—are not happy about their area becoming a flashpoint for protests. A homeowners’ association official “tells TMZ residents are very concerned over the ongoing demonstrations going on outside Pentland’s home.”
TMZ reports the man Pentland aggressively targeted and physically laid hands on does live in the Summit, which he iterated in the original footage.
The outlet says “the HOA says the majority of residents at The Summit are minorities—and while they, and the HOA, don’t condone Pentland’s actions, they’re still concerned about potential property damage.” TMZ additionally summarizes its findings by saying “the vibe is folks are angry they have to deal with the mess Pentland created,” residents are concerned about the grass in their yards, and the HOA and local police are being flooded with complaints from neighbors. The HOA’s also getting hate mail from further destinations.
The article says sources noted that Pentland hasn’t been at his house since his arrest, though he was released. “Before his viral moment,” TMZ writes, “we’re told the HOA had no complaints on record about Pentland, and he was widely known as an ‘upstanding guy.’”
UPDATED 4/15, 5:25 p.m. ET: In a new email statement received by Complex, Fort Jackson’s Media Relations Officer Leslie Ann “LA” Sully writes:
Richland County Sheriff’s Department transferred Sgt. 1st Class Jonathan Pentland to Fort Jackson authorities late yesterday evening. Pentland has been suspended from instructor duties pending the completion of the investigation and outcome of the criminal charges.
Fort Jackson Commander Brig. Gen. Milford Beagle, Jr. also shared a new quote in the email, saying, “Soldier conduct on and off duty must be exemplary to retain the trust of our communities and our nation. Fort Jackson continues to work with and support Sheriff Lott, our local law enforcement professionals, and community & civil leadership as this case moves forward.”
UPDATED 4/15, 12:15 p.m. ET: The identity of the white aggressor in the viral video has been confirmed to be 42-year-old Army sergeant Jonathan Pentland, and several developments have followed.
The military member’s family was moved from their home to an undisclosed location on Wednesday due to protesters gathering outside, and what the Richland County Sheriff’s Office identified as vandalism. The gathering numbered in the dozens or more, and access to Pentland’s neighborhood was later blocked off except for residents:
A clip from earlier in the day, before the gathering grew in size:
Police deputies came to the home at about 8:20 p.m. on Wednesday and, per WIS News, “found that objects had been thrown at the home and through an upstairs window. A light fixture attached to the home was also broken.”
After being charged and taken into custody, Jonathan Pentland was released from the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center. “Pentland’s since-deleted Facebook page said [he and his wife] have a young son and daughter,” the New York Post wrote.
South Carolina State Sen. Mia McLeod, a Black representative of the area the upsetting incident transpired, spoke on the Senate floor on Wednesday about Pentland’s actions. “My sons have a freaking right to live. Another unarmed Black man could be dead today because he was walking in a neighborhood that, I am told, is adjacent to his, doing absolutely nothing.”
McLeod also tweeted about the matter, saying in a quote-tweet featuring Pentland’s mugshot, “Our community is so much stronger than the race-based hate that seeks to divide us.”
See original story below.
Fort Jackson in South Carolina said Wednesday they have launched their own investigation into a viral video showing a white man harassing a Black man in a Richland County neighborhood. Fort Jackson’s Media Relations Officer confirmed in an email to Complex that “the soldier in the video is stationed at Fort Jackson,” he’s been charged by the Richland County Sheriff’s Department, and the Department of Justice “is also looking into the incident.”
In the two-minute video, which went viral on Twitter after being shared on Tuesday, a barefoot white man is seen questioning a Black man on a sidewalk. The Black man is heard explaining he was out for a walk.
“I didn’t hit you,” the white man is heard saying. “There’s a different between pushing you [and hitting you]. You’re aggressing on the neighborhood.” From there, the white man is seen screaming at and pushing the other man.
“Walk away!” he’s heard saying. “Walk away! Check it out, you either walk away or I’m gonna carry your ass out here.” The Black man says he “didn’t do anything,” prompting further comments from the other individual.
“I’m about to do something to you,” he’s heard saying in the footage. “I ain’t coming after you. You’re in the wrong neighborhood, motherfucker. You wanna bet what I can do?”
Later, the Black man explains he’s “not harassing anyone walking through the neighborhood I live in” and points out that the other man approached him, not the other way around. He also tells the individual he “smells drunk.”
As the video picked up steam, Fort Jackson Commanding General Brig. Gen. Milford H. Beagle, Jr. tweeted that these actions are “by no means condoned by any service member.”
In a separate statement, Fort Jackson confirmed it was “aware of the video,” which has their “full attention,” adding that such behavior is “not consistent with our Army values and will not be condoned.” The Fort is the largest and most active Basic Training location in the U.S. Army; it trains 50 percent of all soldiers.
An Associated Press report quoted the woman who first shared the footage to Facebook, Shirell Johnson, who said the young Black man in the video is named Deandre. “The only thing he did was be black while walking!!!” Johnson wrote in a Facebook post on Tuesday. According to Johnson, she and the woman who took the footage waited at the scene for police to arrive. She said the white man in the video was only charged with malicious injury to property.
As observed on social media, as well as in Wednesday’s AP report, the white man in the footage “appears to be U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Jonathan Pentland.” At the time of this writing, Fort Jackson officials had neither confirmed nor denied the name or rank of the man.
In a statement shared early Wednesday, the Richland County Sheriff’s Department said Sheriff Leon Lott would be meeting with elected officials “and representatives of various organizations” to discuss the incident.
“Sheriff Lott realizes the importance of putting out correct information quickly as there has been a lot of incorrect information distributed through Facebook and other social media,” the statement said. “We want to ensure the community knows this incident has been a priority for our Department. The video in itself is very disturbing and has helped tremendously in our investigation. More information will be provided when it becomes available.”
Complex reached out to reps for Fort Jackson and the Richland County Sheriff’s Department for additional comment. Leslie Ann “LA” Sully, Fort Jackson’s Media Relations Officer, stated in an email:
“The soldier in the video is stationed at Fort Jackson and Richland County Sheriff’s Department have confirmed that he has been charged. The U.S. Department of Justice is also looking into the incident. Team Jackson and will work closely with each law enforcement agency as investigations move forward. The command team, our Criminal Investigation Division (Army CID) agents, and our Staff Judge Advocate teams are all engaged with their professional counterparts and civil authorities to seek the facts which will determine how the investigations progress.”
The email began and ended with further quotes from Brig. Gen. Milford Beagle, Jr. “The leaders at Fort Jackson in no way condone the behavior depicted in the video posted recently. This action deeply impacts our community—the neighbors in the Summit, the city of Columbia, Richland & Lexington counties, and our Army family,” he opened. “I ask that our communities and leaders exercise a degree of patience, affording Sherriff Lott and law enforcement investigators to account for the full measure of events before, during, and after the incident that was recorded.”
He added, “I remain deeply concerned for the members of our Army family, the young man and his family, and the tensions that activities like this amplify over time; please be patient as facts are determined.”