Myrtle Beach Police Chief answers questions on Bikefest

Myrtle Beach Police Chief Warren Gall

Warren Gall, the Myrtle Beach Police Chief, sat down with WPDE's Marc Liverman Wednesday to answer questions about Bikefest and the violence that happened in the city over Memorial Day weekend.

When asked if he thinks the violence that occurred was connected to Bikefest he said "absolutely."

"I think anybody would have to say absolutely. If it weren't for Bikefest, the atmosphere would not be here to draw the element that came here that got involved in the incidences that resulted in the shootings," he said. "It's the atmosphere that was created that drew people here that are prone to violence."

He said it isn't clear yet if the shootings were tied to gangs since the investigation is ongoing.

Gall said the department has plans in place to deal with events like this and believes they responded appropriately. He said the police "did not lose control."

"We have two contingency plans in place for major events such as this: One being a mass arrest contingency plan and one being a civil disorder or riot-type thing," he said. "Neither one of those factored into our event this past weekend. People talk about, well, we lost control. We had some violent situations that took a lot of our resources and required us to respond to multiple incidences. We actually, because of our plan, shut the boulevard down so that we did not lose control."

He said they had response teams in different locations that could respond to individual crimes as they occurred.

Gall said more funding would help them moving forward.

"We have to have the physical resources: the barricades, the barriers, the cones, you know, things along that line. That all costs money. We have to have the resources to be able to put them in place " he said. "And then we have to have the flexibility to be able to serve the public and the public needs while we're blocking the traffic."

Gall said the additional funding that could come as a result of the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce's request to the general assembly to divert some of its funds is "a move in the right direction," but adds that it is too early to say how it could impact things next year.

He said he hopes to hold a law enforcement summit sometime this fall with other agencies across the nation to get their input on controlling Bikefest and educate those coming to the area that week.

As for any connection between the shootings and Bikefest, some Myrtle Beach residents say they're not surprised.

"It doesn't shock me. There's just no other way around it was connected because that's what goes on that weekend," explained Myrtle Beach resident Wanda Hucks.

Atlantic Beach resident Jennequa Miller said she still feels Bikefest isn't to blame.

"You just got people who come down here and just get out of control. It could have happened anytime," Miller said.

We also spoke to Atlantic Beach Mayor Jake Evans who also doesn't think Bikefest should be blamed for the shootings, even after hearing about the comments from Chief Gall.

Evans said he still has no plans to cancel next year's Bikefest.