North Myrtle Beach resident credits text alert system for staying informed about officer-involved shooting, manhunt

Published: Jul. 22, 2022 at 11:13 PM EDT
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NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - Many residents in North Myrtle Beach received a text or phone alert from the city letting them know to stay inside after a man opened fire on officers trying to serve a warrant Thursday morning.

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“He could sneak into my back yard that was my worst fear,” said Nick Camera.

Camera was one of many Barefoot Resort residents who received the alert from the city to stay inside during Thursday’s incident.

“We got the call from North Myrtle Beach that said there was an armed and dangerous person in the resort here,” he said.

Officials said that person, later identified as William Alston, opened fire on police on nearby Oyster Catcher Drive.

Camera says his family signed up for the alerts when they moved to the area around eight years ago and believes they helped keep everyone in the surrounding area safe while police searched for Alston.

“If I had not got the notification I would have been sleeping so I’m thankful we got the early warning,” he said.

North Myrtle Beach City Councilwoman Nikki Fontana said the alert system was something the city invested in several years ago, but this week’s event was by far the most dangerous alert sent out.

“I think it’s a great thing that we have and it keeps everyone aware of what’s going on,” said Fontana.

The councilwoman added that the alerts are a tool all residents should have and something all cities should consider to help increase public safety.

“I believe it’s something every municipality should look into,” said Fontana.

Currently, Horry County, Conway and the town of Surfside Beach have their own alert systems in place. A spokesperson for the City of Myrtle Beach also told WMBF News that they’re looking into acquiring a new system.

Camera says in today’s world where almost everyone has a smartphone, there’s no reason not to sign up for these alerts.

“I truly believe you have to keep your citizens informed and if you do that you will have a sense of community and I believe we have that here in North Myrtle Beach and I’m very thankful for that,” he said.

Camera and Fontana both said they’re also thankful for the officers in North Myrtle Beach as well as the agencies who helped capture and arrest Alston.

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