Myrtle Beach Mayor: 'It was like our city being under siege'

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Myrtle Beach residents are calling for change after Bike Fest hit the Grand Strand, and several shootings resulted in three deaths. Local officials and leaders are coming together to identify and solve the problems.

The City Council heard what the people have to say at a meeting Tuesday, and now they have to come together with the county and the state to start brainstorming solutions. Myrtle Beach Mayor John Rhodes promises a solution, but admits they do not have one yet. They are starting with what was most blatant.

"We were doing everything we could to control it," he said. "We just don't have enough manpower to take on the numbers that were here. We don't have the manpower to make the arrests that need to be made."

Mayor Rhodes explained what police were forced to do this weekend. He says they had to pick their battles and go for the people committing the most dangerous crimes. Many people want to get rid of Bike Fest altogether, but council members are hesitant.

"We don't ever want to say people aren't welcome. So to have a situation like this happen.. it's just frustrating."

Councilman Randal Wallace explained things have been done in the past, but realizes leaders have to be consistent in controlling the crowds.

Mayor Rhodes said the National Guard is not the answer, and although safety of citizens, tourists, and families is his utmost concern, he added that we need people that can make arrests and go after criminals. Rhodes called for more law enforcement. County Council Chairman, Mark Lazarus, agreed. He explained there is legislation that allow for the call for state aid.

"We need to reach out and ask them for that help and they are willing to sit down and plan with us for the future," Lazarus said.

Councilman Wallace is happy to hear the state has offered aid, and expressed the help we've been getting has not been enough.

"Even though we do have agreements, I think we only had two hundred extra officers, and we clearly need way more than that."

Rhodes admitted, "It was a catastrophe. There's no question. It was like our city being under siege."

Many people that live in the area expressed similar sentiments during public comment. Chairman Lazarus is calling for redemption.

"We live in a county, a city, and towns that people come here, and they enjoy their families, and they have good family time," he said. "That's what we are all about and we are going to protect that."

Lazarus, Mayor Rhodes and Governor Haley have plans to meet on Friday to start talking law enforcement and future solution to this violent weekend.

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