MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – Officers with the Drug Enforcement Unit serving a narcotics warrant in Myrtle Beach Thursday were allegedly fired on by the suspect they were served a warrant to, and returned fire, injuring him, officials stated.
The shooting occurred at an apartment in the 600 block of Withers Swash Drive at about 3 p.m.
The man that was shot was identified in a SLED statement as 30-year-old Julian Ray Betton, a black male. He was transported from the scene to a nearby hospital. SLED confirmed that he was a suspect to whom the 15th Judicial Circuit DEU Unit was serving a search warrant.
The three officers involved in the shooting were identified as Frank Waddell of the Coastal Carolina University Police Department, Chris Dennis of the Horry County Sheriff's Office, and Officer David Belue of the Myrtle Beach Police Department, all white males, according to SLED.
"Our officers came with a valid search warrant and arrest warrant," Solicitor Jimmy Richardson said at the scene. "They went to serve the search warrant and the arrest warrant. There were shots fired."
Richardson said that a man inside the apartment opened fire on the officers, and they shot back.
Witnesses that live in the complex said they heard several shots fired, and when they stepped outside to find out what was going on, they were immediately told by officers to go back inside their homes.
"One of the guys put a rifle to my face, and told me to get on the ground," said one witness from the neighborhood, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. "They did not announce that they were Myrtle Beach police department or anything. They rammed his door down, they entered, took two steps, about four of them went in there, all big rifles."
The witness said he heard at least 15 shots fired.
"We just heard, ca-ca-ca-ca-ca, automatic weapons, rifles, big rifles," the witness said.
With the recent shooting of Walter Scott caught on camera, and a North Charleston police officer facing murder charges, there has been a renewed call at the state level to equip every officer with a body camera.
A SLED statement released Friday stated that were is no body camera or dash camera video of the incident.
Richardson explained that the 15th District DEU is a coalition of several different local law enforcement agencies.
"It's a coalition of Myrtle Beach and North Myrtle Beach - and every agency may have different rules," Richardson said. "I know Myrtle Beach just put in body cams earlier this month, maybe at the end of March, but my guys don't wear body cams."
SLED spokesman Thom Berry said that they received notification of the police-involved shooting, and sent crime scene investigators and detectives from their regional office. During the independent investigation, SLED will conduct interviews, and gather and analyze forensic evidence. This information will be submitted to prosecutors, who will determine what, if any, criminal charges will be filed.
No matter what is revealed by the investigation, the witness we spoke to was critical of the DEU's apparent methods when serving these warrants.
"They did not announce that they were Myrtle Beach Police Department or anything," the witness said. "They rammed his door down, they entered, took two steps, about four of them went in there, all big rifles. I don't know if the guy grabbed a gun or not, but it took two seconds for them to open fire."
As of Thursday evening, the person that was shot is alive and was in surgery at the hospital, according to Richardson.