Teen's death sparks security questions at nightclubs - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Teen's death sparks security questions at nightclubs

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DJ Houghtaling (Source: Facebook) DJ Houghtaling (Source: Facebook)

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - The death of a 19-year-old at The Afterdeck in Myrtle Beach is raising questions among many parents on the legitimacy of security personnel at area nightclubs.

The call to action is being made by Andy Houghtaling, the father of 19-year-old DJ Houghtaling who was fatally stabbed at The Afterdeck on Sept. 8.

Police believe Houghtaling and three others were stabbed after two groups of men stared each other down on the dance floor.  Witnesses say Houghtaling and another man were trying to help a friend when all were attacked.

"This thing, although it was fast - anywhere from 30 seconds to two minutes - started with name calling, pushing and shoving," said Andy Houghtaling. "And then one of them had a knife and we lost our son."

Houghtaling says while prayers have helped his family cope with the tragic loss, it doesn't mean he's not angry about what happened, why it happened and how bouncers at The Afterdeck could have let the situation get out of control.

In memory of his son, Andy Houghtaling is making it his mission to ensure club-goers are safer along the Grand Strand.

Tim Moore of AP Professional Security says the fight will begin with club owners, who have an option to hire security personnel who are licensed and bonded by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division.

"They've been trained.  They've been through a classroom-type setting," said Moore when describing the difference between bouncers and trained security. "They've also been through a hands-on setting where they're taught to restrain, taught to handcuff and taught how to handle [that] a bouncer might not be."

As a parent, however, how can you make sure your teen is hanging out at a nightclub with licensed security?  Moore says it will take a small amount of investigating on your end.

"Go in and see what type of security, see what type of facility is going on," he suggested. "You know, you always want to see where your child is hanging out."

According to Chris Manios, owner of Club Kryptonite, that's what parents opt to do before letting their teens through the door of his nightclub.

"If they want to come out and check out the place, find out what the hours are, make sure [their] child gets into a cab - we'll do anything that they ask," he said.

Manios says throughout the year, 15 to 16 licensed security officers will be hired to monitor activity in and out of the club.

"Honestly, for peace of mind, it's necessary," he explained. "We operated for a number of years without, then we've have the private security firms in here, and it's a world of difference."

The difference between a bouncer and security officers, both Manios and Moore say, are obvious. When walking around the clubs, parents should take a good look at the uniforms of security officers working inside of the club. Only those that are certified are allowed to wear shirts or hats that have the word "security" on them.

Experts say some clubs get around the definition of true security personnel by having their bouncers wear shirts with the word "staff" on them.

Whether a club is staffed with bouncers or true security, DJ Houghtaling's father says he's still going to keep a close eye on the safety of local clubs.

"It was senseless, but yes, it was worthwhile for the people that he's helped," Andy Houghtaling said of his son's death. "That he's helped for the rest of their lives due to him, thank you Lord for that."

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