ISLE OF PALMS, S.C. (AP) — Gunfire erupted on a South Carolina beach during a “senior skip day” event involving numerous teenagers Friday, wounding six people and prompting charges against two for unlawful possession of guns, police in South Carolina said.
The shots broke out around 5:20 p.m. on Isle of Palms, 94 miles (151 kilometers) south of Myrtle Beach. Police are still investigating the shooting, and are asking for the public to provide additional information or video footage.
Cell phone video, filmed by Jessica Gick, shows large crowds of beach-goers fleeing as police sirens wail in the distance. (Video Courtesy: Jessica Gick visa Storyful)
Isle of Palms Police Chief Kevin Cornett said during a news conference Saturday that police arrested and charged a 16-year-old with possessing a stolen firearm and unlawfully carrying it. Cornett said police are still investigating whether the juvenile was involved in the shooting. Additionally, an 18-year-old was arrested on a charge of unlawful possession of a firearm in a municipal parking lot, the police chief said.
Hundreds of people including high schoolers taking an unofficial day off were on the beach at the time, and there were several altercations before shots were fired, Cornett has said. Officers went out on the beach when they saw the crowd gathering, then two fights broke out and the shooting unfolded, Cornett said.
Cornett said two guns — pistols from the two people who were arrested — have been confiscated so far. He said the number of shooters remains under investigation.
Six people suffered injuries that were not life-threatening. Some were taken to the hospital by ambulance and others transported themselves, and most of them have already been released. Five of the victims were teens, and another was in her mid-30s, Cornett said.
The person in her 30s was just in the area using the beach, “an innocent victim in a bad spot,” Cornett said. The others who were injured were part of the group on the beach, but Cornett said it remains unclear whether they were involved in any wrongdoing or just innocent victims.
Police could not immediately say if the shooter or shooters were in custody or if any of the firearms recovered at the scene were used in the shooting, Cornett has said.
Charleston County Sheriff Kristin Graziano said most of the people her office spoke with on Friday did not cooperate. She implored families, school officials and others to reach out if they know who participated.
“There’s absolutely no reason that anybody should be carrying a gun to the beach,” Graziano said at the Saturday news conference. “Absolutely no reason. And you have innocent bystanders that were victims of that.”