Hours between shots fired and police response leave questions

Hours between shots fired and police response leave questions

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – On the morning of July 10, 42-year-old Mark Verhasselt was found dead outside a running car on Bovardia Place in the Myrtlewood community.

Despite being found around 6:00 a.m. that morning, neighbors reported to WMBF News and to police they heard shots fired around 12:30 a.m. in the same area. It begs the question: what happen in the hours between the initial reports of gunshots and the discovery of the victim's body?

WMBF News Investigates sorted through 911 transcripts and police records to establish a timeline what we know so far, and what questions still remain.

Shortly after midnight, the county received a call about reported shots fired to its non-emergency line, according to Myrtle Beach Public Information Officer Mark Kruea.

The dispatcher advised the caller to contact Myrtle Beach police."That's actually going to be Myrtle Beach jurisdiction if you need the police out there," a Horry County dispatcher is heard saying in released audio files. "Yeah definitely for that kind of situation I would call the Myrtle Beach Police Department, I could give you their number if you'd like."

Myrtle Beach police call logs first record a call coming in at 12:31 a.m in relation to a weapon discharge. The location, however, is noted as Magnolia Place on the call logs, an area near the scene but not the exact location.

Minutes later, another caller reported hearing multiple shots and seeing people running. This is the same woman who initially called the county's non-emergency line. It was around this time, 12:34 a.m., that Myrtle Beach police officers were dispatched.

The city says officers were not given an exact location, but investigated the area on Wild Iris Drive from 48th Avenue North to 38th Avenue North. They did not find evidence of a shooting.

Officials said officers were responding to reports of shots fired without a specific location or address.

Myrtle Beach Police Captain Eric Di Lorenzo told WMBF News on Monday the call-taker did not provide information about Bovardia Place to the dispatcher, despite the caller mentioning the location. Part of Magnolia Place is within city limits and the other part is in the county.

While Myrtle Beach police did respond and search the area after receiving calls around 12:30 a.m., officials said the officers did not search beyond the city limits. Recordings of Horry County Dispatch from that morning obtained by WMBF News reveal Horry County officers also had questions about the location of the incident.

"Can you call Myrtle Beach and see if she maybe called the wrong number and Myrtle Beach city got this call?" An officer said over dispatch. "She's saying she called around midnight…maybe before midnight"

Kruea said the incident "illustrates the need for emergency personnel to be especially aware when multiple jurisdictions may be involved."

Myrtle Beach Police Chief Amy Prock and Horry County Police Chief Joe Hill said they will work to reinforce with their call takers that specific addresses and jurisdictional boundaries are vital to identifying where an emergency response is needed.

According to Horry County Deputy Coroner Michelle McSpadden, Verhasselt's initial time of death is at 12:30 a.m. The coroner is awaiting the final report that is expected in October.

The Horry County Police Department continues to investigate this homicide and have arrested Matthew Isaiah Rivera and Marquis Shawn Brown in connection with the incident.

Copyright 2018 WMBF News. All rights reserved.