Suspect in fatal shooting in North Myrtle Beach charged with voluntary manslaughter

Suspect in fatal shooting in North Myrtle Beach charged with voluntary manslaughter

NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) -  A Little River man told police that he shot a man multiple times in a parking lot in North Myrtle Beach Friday night after the man punched him in the face and ignored his commands to stop. The victim later died at a nearby hospital.

A North Myrtle Beach Police officer responded to a dirt parking lot adjacent to a business in the 2300 block of North Ocean Boulevard in reference to an assault, according to a news release from Pat Dowling, the city's public information officer. On arrival, the officer saw a group of people gathered around the victim, who was later identified by Deputy Coroner Darris Fowler as 26-year-old Ryan Burt of Lexington.

The officer requested EMS assistance and attempted to administer care to the victim while controlling the crowd and scanning the area for a potential suspect, the release states. Backup officers arrived, and EMS arrived, administered care, and took the victim to a nearby hospital where he later died. A crime scene was established, and officers gathered information on what took place.

Later in the evening, the suspect, 25-year-old Zachary Paul Owens, contacted NMB Police. He said after he saw a fight take place inside the restaurant next to the parking lot, he closed his tab and went to his parked car so he could go home. Owens said Burt began yelling at him from across the parking lot as he smoked a cigarette next to his vehicle.

Owens told police that he wasn't sure why Burt approached him, but when he did, Owens pulled his firearm from the glove box of his vehicle. Owens said Burt then began punching him in the face, and Owens repeatedly told Burt to back away and stop, or he would be shot. Burt continued to strike him, Owens said, and he shot Burt multiple times due to his fear of injury and lack of a means of escape.

Burt died at the Grand Strand Medical Center emergency room at 1:05 a.m. Saturday, said Deputy Coroner Fowler, adding that the victim died from a gunshot wound.

Owens is being held in the North Myrtle Beach Detention Center, and is charged with voluntary manslaughter, according to jail records. His bond was set at $15,000, Dowling said.

A follow-up investigation will be conducted by detectives, Dowling said.

"I was still awake and heard three or four pops I think it's around midnight, and was kind of assuming they were fire crackers but then I heard sirens a little later and lots and lots of voices coming from up or down the hallway." says Amy Thompson.

Thompson was staying at the motel next to the parking lot where the shooting took place. She says she and her boyfriend recently came to North Myrtle Beach for vacation, and were here several days ago when South State Bank was robbed.

"The side streets were barricaded when they were looking for the bank robbers, so we're just thinking we picked an interesting time to visit," Thompson said. "This is so strange. Like I said my boyfriend has been coming here two or three weeks for forty years, I've been coming here for about 12. We love this area. This is such a strange thing."

Copyright 2016 WMBF News. All rights reserved.