Social media threats halt fireworks at Loris Bog Off

Social media threats halt fireworks at Loris Bog Off

LORIS, SC (WMBF) - Officials say several threatening rumors forced them to call of the fireworks display at this year 's Bog Off.

Some say this year's Bog Off brought more people than ever before, until the rumors starting flying. The chamber, the city, and local and county law enforcement said the decision to cancel the fireworks was unanimous, and people that attended feel the right call was made.

"There were too many people there, anybody could have got hurt. Anybody. My child, your child, anybody," Donna Jackson said. Jackson explained she attends the Bog Off every year and didn't know why anyone would target such a community-driven event.

Chris Barlow, another resident of Loris, also agreed with the decision to call of the fireworks.

"With the way things are in our country and all around the world, you just never know. It's just sad that they had to make that call," Barlow said. Barlow explained that despite the large crowd, she felt safe the entire time.

"We saw a lot of security, a lot of police officers from Horry County, the town of Loris," Barlow said. "I had no problems about walking around."

What Barlow didn't know at the time: city and county officials were getting word of threats on the event. Interim Chief of the Loris Police Department, Karen Shepherd, said several different rumors circled via social media. While she did not go into the detail of what those rumors entailed, she did mention they were from Facebook messages and tweets specifically.

One event-goer said the threats had to do with potential shots to be fired during the fireworks. However, no police reports indicate that there were shots fired, and Shepherd said the event was incident-free.

Attendees weren't surprised to hear how fast the rumors spread.

"That media's like wildfire," Jackson said.

Barlow explained she no longer has a Facebook account. "It's now a website to spread things instead of just getting to know each other, getting with your friends, see what's happening and get updated," Barlow said.

Gregory Martin, the chairman of the Bog Off with the Loris Chamber of Commerce, declined an interview, but explained they announced the fireworks were going to be called off because of safety concerns. Unfortunately, some say that's what they look forward to most.

"It was a very big disappointment, not only for myself, but for the City of Loris as well," Jackson said. Though she learned of the threats the next day, Jackson explains, one thing did seem strange to her.

"It did look like to me that the vendors did come a little earlier to this Bog Off than normal," Jackson said, adding that she wondered if they came early knowing the event would end early.

Gregory Martin later explained they knew of the threats 45 minutes into the event and collaborated with the city and law enforcement to cancel the firework display while still going forward with some of the other events as safely as possible

Martin said the unfortunate ending to this year's Bog Off will not affect next year. In fact, he said, they have already started planning.

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