MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) Myrtle Beach Interim Police Chief Amy Prock released several more details about the shooting that wounded seven people, including the shooting suspect, at a special called city council meeting Tuesday afternoon. On Tuesday at the meeting, Chief Prock also confirmed the suspect and immediate victim knew each other and were involved in gang activity. The conflict Sunday actually originated after an incident in North Carolina, where many of the victims and the suspect are from.
Interim Chief Prock says the call came in around 12:20 a.m. Sunday about a shooting near 4th Avenue North and Ocean Boulevard. According to police, they identified and apprehended the shooting suspect by 12:26 a.m. Interim Chief Prock clarified to the council during the meeting that officials apprehended the suspect somewhere between three and six minutes after the original call about the shooting came in. Myrtle Beach police spokesperson Lt. Joey Crosby states a fight broke out and one person pulled out a gun and shot the other. Lt. Crosby says an armed security officer witnessed the shooting and shot the suspect. The alleged shooter then fired numerous rounds and escaped the scene by carjacking a vehicle, police confirm.
During the shooting, a Myrtle Beach Police Department patrol car was shot three times, but no officers were injured. While officers were responding to the area to identify victims and secure the crime scene, a call came in about a bloody person at the Palace Resort blocking the parking garage. Police identified the man as the shooting suspect, arrested him and took him to the hospital. Six people, including the suspect, were taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries. The security officer was also injured in the shooting but was treated at the scene.
Tuesday afternoon, Prock announced an 18-year-old male victim from North Carolina who was involved in the fight was still in the hospital. Prock also released the other victims included an 18-year-old female from North Carolina, a juvenile from North Carolina, a 17-year-old female from Ohio, an 18-year-old female from North Carolina, the security officer and the suspect who was identified as a 17-year-old male from North Carolina. The suspect will be charged with several counts of attempted murder, carjacking and possession of a firearm during the commission of violent crime, but no warrants have been served yet due to suspect s condition. The Myrtle Beach Police Department is still investigating. Anyone with information about the incident should call 843-918-1382.
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With millions on social media bearing witness to gun violence in Myrtle Beach, city and state leaders moved Monday to consider tightening security in its popular tourist district. Seven people were hurt in three reports of weekend gunfire on Ocean Boulevard, and another was shot outside a busy mall, police said. After a fifth shooting Monday night, Gov. Henry McMaster asked State Law Enforcement Division Chief Mark Keel to work with local law enforcement and address the spate of violence. The governor, spokesman Brian Symmes said, wants to help coordinate efforts to maintain the safe and family-friendly atmosphere the Grand Strand is known for.
McMaster and Keel will meet Thursday with the Myrtle Beach City Council, Myrtle Beach Police and Horry County Sheriff’s department leaders, and Horry County lawmakers. On Tuesday, Myrtle Beach City Council will hold a special meeting at 2 p.m. to discuss safety measures on Ocean Boulevard. Members planned to meet behind closed doors, then vote on possible solutions in front of the public. State and local officials are trying to guard against visitors calling off trips during the peak summer season to South Carolina’s top tourist destination. Tourism remains a top tax generator for South Carolina.
Myrtle Beach has struggled with a rash of violence on its main strip that attracts thousands on summer weekend evenings. City leaders have weighed cutting down on cruising Ocean Boulevard, as well as curbing sales of clothing with provocative images and sayings. Since the season began, the city also has been coping with the sudden retirement of its longtime police chief. Facebook users watched live early Sunday as a melee ignited a shootout between a man and a security guard, accounting for most of the weekend casualties.
More than 4 million people have seen the resulting video that Bubba Hinson, a 24-year-old volunteer firefighter from Kershaw County’s Bethune, captured while visiting the city for a fire-rescue convention.
“I started filming because there was a large crowd dancing on the street; I thought it would be funny,” he said. “I had no idea it was going to be like this.”
The string of shootings started Saturday before the sun went down. The first episode happened about 4:30 p.m. at the Coastal Grand Mall, where officers found a wounded person in the parking lot, police Lt. Joey Crosby said. Investigators were still working to identify a suspect and a motive. About 15 minutes later, the police fielded a report of gunfire outside the Crown Reef Resort on South Ocean Boulevard, but they could not determine whether anyone had been hit, Crosby said.
Then, just after midnight on Sunday, Hinson pointed his cellphone on the street below his hotel room at Holiday Sands North.
“Nothing was out of the ordinary for the strip,” he said. “It was just a large group acting crazy.”
He commented during the video that the participants were acting like “idiots” and forcing motorists to stop. The police had already been called and were monitoring the situation, Crosby said. Flashing blue lights were visible down the street. But arms started flailing. People tumbled.
“Fight! Fight! Fight!” Hinson said.
A mob piled on a man in a white T-shirt and punched him. He got back to his feet, pulled out a gun and fired. A security guard saw the action and fired at the shooter, Crosby said. The wounded man stole a car at gunpoint but was later caught. In all, seven people suffered injuries that were not life-threatening, but it remained uncertain who was responsible for their wounds.
Crosby said Monday the shooter remained hospitalized and would not be served with any arrest warrants until being medically cleared. Hinson said one of his most popular past Facebook live moments was when he documented Hurricane Matthew from his truck. But 4,000 people now want to be his friend on Facebook, and he’s gotten 2,000 messages from as far away as Australia.
He was just thankful no one had died.
“I think the security guard did what he thought was right,” he said. “The whole situation could have been worse.”
Private armed security guards will protect your kids next year. The Horry County school board voted Monday to approve a $550,000 contract with U.S. Security Associates to provide 18 armed security guards who will patrol the 15 schools that Horry County police previously patrolled as well as three new schools scheduled to be open by next year. I expect them to try and recruit former law enforcement, retired law enforcement, ex-military.
Joe DeFeo, school board chairman
Chief Financial Officer John Gardner said in an email he doesn t recall the district ever using private security inside schools before. U.S. Security Associates is an insured, American-owned company that provides over 50,000 security professionals with 160 branches in the United States, according to its website. The firm also provides unarmed security outside Horry County schools and its existing contract with the district provides that it may supply armed security guards for an additional cost if needed.
One thing that we know in our school district is the safety and security is not just an individual officer or individual person. Safety and security is part of a team effort.
John Poston, school board member
The security guards in the schools would have arresting authority on school property, according to district spokeswoman Teal Britton. Unlike police officers, they would operate at the disposal of the school district. The company in its proposal told the district that all armed guards would receive all necessary training required by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division as well as an additional 16 hours in training from U.S. Security Associates.
The company will be required to provide proof of all background checks and training, Britton said last week.
U.S. Security Associates District Manager Ed Leitgeb said the firm puts its employees through extensive social security background checks and other databases and would like to recruit veterans and law enforcement to fill the positions in Horry County Schools. Leitgeb said all security guards are required to be trained in CPR, first aid and automated external defibrillator operation.
I expect them to keep up the promises that they made, said school board Chairman Joe DeFeo. I expect them to try and recruit former law enforcement, retired law enforcement, ex-military. We re going to keep the pressure on them to hire the proper individuals. Board member John Poston said that safety and security is the upmost importance in Horry County Schools.
One thing that we know in our school district is the safety and security is not just an individual officer or individual person, whether it be a security officer or SRO, said Poston. Safety and security is part of a team effort. It comes from the vision of the board of education handed down through our administration, rolled out through out teachers and even in our students. It s a culture that we build in horry County schools.
The district already has budgeted $801,000 in the 2017-18 budget for all SROs, including $592,000 for officers at the schools that Horry County police would have patrolled this year: the amount budgeted for the officers under the previous agreement with the county.
The district began looking at private security options after the county in March abandoned a long-standing agreement to split the cost of school resource officers salaries, and most recently asked for more than $1.6 million to patrol the schools.