MYRTLE BEACH — An increased police presence will appear here through Labor Day in a response to a rash of violence last weekend that included gunfire, officials said Thursday.
Gov. Henry McMaster and State Law Enforcement Division Chief Mark Keel met with local officials behind closed doors, then held a press conference. McMaster said all of the state's resources will be available to the city.
"There will be a lot more boots on the ground than there were," McMaster said. "Many visible, some not so noticeable."
Myrtle Beach Police Lt. Joey Crosby said the number of law enforcement officials participating from other state agencies would be released later. Keel did not speak at the press conference.
The meeting came on the heels of a violent stretch: Four shootings, including one in the city’s tourist district that went viral, occurred over the weekend, and a fifth shooting took place Monday.
Though the city saw spikes of violence on Easter weekend this year and took similar steps after shootings during the 2014 Memorial Day weekend, McMaster called the past week’s shootings an “aberration.”
“It’s not that kind of place,” the governor said, noting that most of the people involved in the Sunday shooting that went viral after being streamed on Facebook live were from out of state.
Some of the measures being put in place have been used in the past, Crosby said. Barricades along major sidewalks are already up to keep pedestrians on sidewalks and to prevent people from congregating along the road.
The barricades have proven effective during Memorial Day weekends and music festivals, Crosby said.
The quick governmental response has been encouraging, Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce President Brad Dean said. The economic implications of the cluster of shootings won't be immediately apparent, he said, "but we know that it's problematic."
Visitors have already asked about how the city would respond to the shootings, he said. Though the heightened police presence may not be the norm, he feels more comfortable knowing some kind of plan is in place.
"I can message safety much more than I can message mayhem," he said.
Both the city’s residents and its tourists are on the mind of officials, McMaster said. He does not believe a heightened police presence will unnerve either group.
He also stressed the cooperation between state and local law enforcement, while Crosby said federal help will be available if necessary.
“Probably the best professional team in the country is now being assembled,” McMaster said.
Still, McMaster chalked up the incidents to “young folks (who) were not aware you can’t cut up like that, can’t hurt people like that.”
When a member of the media asked him what his presence at the meeting said about the state of the city, he responded that he’d been visiting the area regularly since his youth.
“Any time I can come to Myrtle Beach, I’m going to be here,” he said.