The Federal Bureau of Investigation conducted a search of a residence in South Carolina as part of an ongoing criminal civil rights investigation involving allegations of racial discrimination.
This action follows the recent charges against two Horry County residents, Alexis Paige Hartnett and Worden Evander Butler, for harassment. They are accused of setting a cross on fire facing their Black neighbor’s home on Corbett Drive in late November, as reported by CBS News based on incident reports.
During the search, both Hartnett and Butler, who are White, were present at the scene. Hartnett was heard making threats, including threats against law enforcement and media, while Butler raised his hands to obstruct a photographer from capturing images.
In addition to the cross-burning incident, Hartnett and Butler allegedly engaged in racially motivated harassment and stalking of their neighbors, as detailed in the incident report. Butler had previously entered the neighbor’s property without permission, used racial slurs, and disrupted work on the neighbor’s home.
Concerned about potential escalation, the neighbors reported feeling threatened and worried about the frequency of such behavior.
Body-camera footage recorded Hartnett using racial slurs during a police interview, even in the presence of the neighbor’s family, while ignoring police orders. After the alleged cross-burning, Butler posted his neighbor’s address on social media, claiming he was “summoning the devil’s army” and making threats.
Arrest warrants were issued on November 24, leading to their arrest on November 30. Hartnett faces charges of harassment in the second degree and third-degree assault and battery, while Butler is charged with harassment in the second degree. Both were released on December 1.
Notably, Hartnett mentioned in a police interview that she had killed a Black woman in the past, with no further information available about the incident.
South Carolina lacks specific hate crime laws, but the FBI is conducting a federal criminal civil rights investigation in collaboration with the U.S. Attorney’s Office and local and state partners, addressing the allegations of racial discrimination and harassment.