A volunteer firefighter held the suspect down on a playground behind Townville Elementary School in Anderson County until police arrived, giving a teacher time to get students inside the building, authorities said. The suspect never entered the school, located near the Georgia state line about 100 miles (160 km) northeast of Atlanta.
U.S. schools have taken added security precautions since 2012 when a gunman shot dead 20 children and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.
Wednesday's shooting left one 6-year-old boy in critical condition and undergoing surgery, Scott Stoller, Anderson County's director of emergency services, told the Anderson Independent Mail.
The other boy and a female teacher were in good condition, said Juana Slade, spokeswoman for AnMed Health Medical Center.
Authorities said the teenager shot his 47-year-old father, Jeffrey DeWitt Osborne, in the chest at their home around 2 miles (3.2 kms) from the school. One male student was shot in the leg and the other boy was shot in the foot. The female teacher was shot in the shoulder, authorities said. Both the shooter and all victims were white.
Anderson County Sheriff’s Office Captain Garland Major did not know the relationship between the shooter and those injured at the school.
Immediately after the shooting, armed officers guarded students as they were evacuated from the school and taken by bus to a nearby church, local media said. Television images showed police swarming the school, with some officers on the roof while others moved around the building.
Jamie Meredith, whose daughter is in kindergarten at Townville Elementary, told WYFF news that she panicked after getting word of the shooting. Her daughter is OK but described a scene of scared and crying children.
“I’m just scared,” the woman, who was not identified, said through tears as she was interviewed by WYFF. “I don’t even want her to go to school now.”
About 280 students attend the school.
The incident was the latest in a series of shootings at U.S. schools that have fueled the debate about access to guns in America.
Earlier this month, a 14-year-old girl shot and wounded a fellow student at a rural Texas high school and then died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Governor Nikki Haley is due to meet with law enforcement officials in the area this evening, Anderson County emergency services director Taylor Jones said.