A Charleston restaurant worker who was unloading furniture into his East Side apartment Thursday night was shot and killed by a man on a bicycle after a confrontation, according to witnesses and multiple security videos.
Video from a neighboring home shows a man and woman confronting a group of men on bikes in the middle of the street. One of the bikers pulls a gun from his waistband and aims it at them. Five shots are heard on the video. The camera captures the muzzle flash. Blocked by the view of the truck, the victim is struck. The suspect then gets on his bicycle and rides down Hanover Street, shouting obscenities at bystanders.
Mayor John Tecklenburg and Police Chief Luther Reynolds walked the area Friday afternoon and said they're committed to securing justice in this case. They urged the community to come together.
"This kind of activity is not Charleston," Tecklenburg said. "It's not who we are."
The mayor said community engagement is a key component in solving public safety issues, and that violent crime like the shooting harms the entire community.
"As a society, I think we need to continue to address our values of how important human life is," Tecklenburg said.
At this time, the man on the bike is being considered a person of interest, the chief said. Investigators hope to interview him.
"We have not stopped since this occurred last night," Reynolds said. "We will not stop until we have justice in this case, until we make an arrest. We are going to allow the facts to lead us to where they will."
The chief acknowledged several theories have circulated on social media about the shooting but said that neither he nor his officers want to speculate about the case.
What was known Friday was that there was a confrontation that led to the shooting, Reynolds said. It's unclear what prompted the confrontation or what was said. Officers continue to interview witnesses to piece together what happened.
As the investigation continued, information surfaced about the victim.
The Darling Oyster Bar, where the victim worked as a sous-chef, released a statement, saying its employees "are all heartbroken by this loss." The victim has not been identified by the Charleston County coroner because his family has not been notified.
The shooting was Charleston’s sixth homicide in 2019 and the 41st in the tri-county this year, according to a Post and Courier database. But residents in the East Side neighborhood said gun violence feels like a near-daily occurrence, and they feel that city officials aren't doing enough to stop crime in their part of the peninsula.
"He was just one of the best people you could have met," Graham Calabria said. "He was a good neighbor, a solid guy always trying to do the right thing."
A shooting in downtown Charleston's East Side neighborhood left one man dead Thursday night.
The victim had a 5-year-old daughter, said Calabria, who is raising money with a Facebook page to help the child.
Tim Weber, a property owner who oversees six residences in the East Side, said cameras outside his residences caught footage of the shooting and its aftermath.
Kalev Kruuk, who lived across the street from the victim, said he spoke to him shortly before he died. He said the two would talk often. Kruuk was saddened by the shooting and feels there isn't enough being done to stop violent crime in his neighborhood.
"Shootings happen all the time in this area. Why is no one trying to stop this?" Kruuk said. "We're totally hopeless and alone."
But Councilman Robert Mitchell, who represents the East Side, said police are there both in uniform and plainclothes. At one time, he said the area saw 13 to 14 homicides a year, far more than it sees today.
“We have law enforcement all over the place. They can’t be every place all the time,” he said. “You can drive through and patrol an area and something can happen right after they leave.”
Weber said he has reached out to law enforcement regularly to address what he feels like is a steady stream of violent crime in the neighborhood. Violent crime as a whole in Charleston has seen historic lows in the past decade. In 2007, more than 900 violent crimes were reported in the city, according to FBI data. Since then, it has seen a rapid decrease each year, with less than 400 reported in 2017.
Mitchell said the community came together last year for a meeting and talked about having more police and more visibility.
“These things were taken into consideration, and they were done,” Mitchell said.
Anyone with information on the case is asked to call 843-743-7200 and ask for the on-duty detective. Those who wish to remain anonymous can call Crime Stoppers of the Lowcountry at 843-554-1111.
Police and city officials will hold a public meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the auditorium of Trident Technical College's Palmer Campus, 66 Columbus St., to address the homicide and overall public safety issues.
Mikaela Porter and Gregory Yee contributed to this report.