Myrtle Beach city leaders speak out on recent shootings, gang violence

Updated: May. 25, 2020 at 6:52 PM EDT
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MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - Myrtle Beach city leaders are speaking out following two additional shootings along Ocean Boulevard over the Memorial Day weekend.

Mayor Brenda Bethune confirmed in a written statement the shootings were once again gang-related.

For the 3rd time in one week our community has been violated by gang violence from outside of our borders. They brought their rivalries and disputes to MB to fight and that is not acceptable. Our police dept was on the scene in each instance immediately and within minutes had suspects in custody. We will work with our counterparts across the State to address these issues and we will take swift and immediate action to protect us from these evil acts,” Bethune wrote.

Overall, city leaders are frustrated with these acts of violence taking place downtown, a place intended for family fun.

In the last two weeks, there have been four gun-related incidences reported in Myrtle Beach. The Myrtle Beach Police Department responded quickly in each case and made arrests.

Following last weekend’s shooting near Plyer Park, Myrtle Beach Police Chief Amy Prock warned anyone who came to Myrtle Beach with the intention of breaking the law would be arrested and held accountable for their actions.

Myrtle Beach city leaders says that message continues to hold true for everyone.

“These are gangs from other areas so this is not a home-grown problem. This is a problem that brought itself to Myrtle Beach,” said Mark Kruea, city of Myrtle Beach spokesperson.

Former Myrtle Beach Mayor John Rhodes dealt with a similar event as mayor in 2017 after a gun was fired along Ocean Boulevard on Father’s Day weekend and was streamed on Facebook.

In 2017, Rhodes proposed to close portions of Ocean Boulevard to vehicles during the evening, only allowing pedestrians to walk downtown.

Rhodes said this would only be during the busier months between Memorial Day and Labor Day allowing pedestrians to walk along Ocean Boulevard during crowded hours.

The plans did not go over well with business owners originally who were afraid it would impact the number of customers traveling down the boulevard.

However, Rhodes believes it is still a plan worth discussing.

“Everything becomes more visible. You’ve got the cameras and police officers out on the street walking the beach and they will be able to try to control and contain any problem that might pop up quickly,” said Rhodes.

Myrtle Beach Councilman Gregg Smith says no option is off the table at this point.

Smith also added these acts of violence don’t represent the large majority of people who come to Myrtle Beach for the right reason.

“Hundreds of thousands of people came to the beach over the last two weekends and 99.99 percent of them had a great time. It’s a few bad apples that are ruining this,” said Smith.

Smith expects city council to discuss the recent violence at Tuesday’s council meeting where Bethune plans to speak to WMBF News on camera.

Myrtle Beach police said the people arrested in both shootings over the weekend will have their bond hearings Tuesday at 9 a.m.

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