Despite similar concerns, changes made in three years between two city council meetings on violence

Despite similar concerns, changes made in three years between two city council meetings on violence

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - People made it clear at Tuesday's special city council meeting that they don't want to see violence in Myrtle Beach like the shooting that happened along Ocean Boulevard soon after midnight Sunday.

That shooting left seven people injured, including the suspect.

However, this isn't the first time the city has heard these same concerns.

"If we going to deal with it, we'll deal with it as a community, not as a white or black community, but as a whole community," said Mickey James, president of the local NAACP branch, back in May 2014. "Let's deal with this issue."

Myrtle Beach City Council held a meeting following a fatal shooting during the 2014 Memorial Day Bikefest that left three people dead. It was similar to the meeting held Tuesday after several shootings over Father's Day weekend.

"Those folks that shot people, I don't care what color they were, they need to go to jail," James said Tuesday. "That's the bottom line. It's not an NAACP issue. It's not an Urban League issue. It's an issue of the city of Myrtle Beach to deal with that, with the crime that's gone on."

Many people expressed similar sentiments Tuesday to what was presented to council at the meeting following Bikefest three years ago.

"This is not a black white issue, it's an age issue, guys," Oceans One general manager Ray Booth said in 2014.

"Now you get a 14-year-old that'll walk down the street and pull a gun and shoot somebody without fear of consequences," Booth said Tuesday.

Even though he brought up the same issues, Booth said changes have been made over the last few years.

"Three years ago, the emphasis was on Memorial Day and they've done a great job with curtailing the problems that we had there with the different plans that we have," he said.

The conversation is happening again though because of other busy summer weekends.

"What we need to do is extend some of those plans right on through the summer because a lot of the problems that you see Memorial Day now have escalated and they've entered from weekend to weekend," Booth said.

Myrtle Beach City Councilman Wayne Gray agrees.

"These weekends during the summer are so huge, with visitors and various types of visitors, that we probably need to treat them as special events," Gray said. "So barricading certain roads, additional lighting, obviously additional agency support from SLED, the sheriff's office, Horry County Police Department, Coastal Carolina University will help supplement officers that we need."

The difference between the meeting three years ago and the one on Tuesday is the city now has an example of a plan that is working.

"You can look at Memorial Day in '15 and '16 and '17 and see that there was decline in attendance, particularly those that were willing to commit acts of violence," Gray said. "We've reduced the acts of violence and so that's what we're going to do and believe can be imposed during the summer months."

City council members talked about some possible solutions, such as using barricades along sidewalks and adding more lighting, during Tuesday's meeting.

They also received a briefing from interim police Chief Amy Prock about the recent shootings and what the police department is actively doing right now to prevent crime.

Some of those discussions were meant to be held in executive session, but Gray proposed they do the executive session in front of the public.

"I think also it was good for folks to see the passion and the commitment that Chief Prock was offering in terms of representing the Myrtle Beach Police Department and the men and women that work in a difficult environment," Gray said.

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