A growing Myrtle Beach family's Fourth of July celebration at a local landmark quickly turned into chaos after reports of an active shooter sent crowds fleeing from Broadway at the Beach.
When Viki Draper, an expectant mother, first saw people running, the crowd wasn’t that big.
Draper, her husband and their 7-year-old son were excited to watch the fireworks after walking around Broadway at the Beach for a couple of hours. They’d staked out a spot by a playground near Ben & Jerry’s so that their son could play while they waited for the show to start. It was also close to where they parked, perfect for beating post-show traffic, they thought.
When she first heard commotion, Draper, who is eight months pregnant, thought a firework had misfired, causing a small panic. But then the crowd running towards them began to grow.
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She heard someone yell “shooter” and her husband yell “go.”
“We just grabbed what we could and ran,” she said. The family took off toward Ripley’s Aquarium, trying to get to their car. She says her son was hit in the head by someone’s elbow and was almost pushed down multiple times.
“I was just trying to keep a hold on him,” she said. Draper herself was elbowed in the stomach.
The family eventually made it to their car, and Draper began trying to comfort her son. She said he was terrified as she pushed him against the car while her husband found his keys to unlock the car.
“All I could hear was my son screaming,” she said. “He heard someone say gun and thought the shooter was right behind us.”
It took them about a half hour to get out of the parking lot, where they watched others, even a man with a newborn, flee to their cars.
The incident was sparked by a fight, according to Myrtle Beach police. They say no shots were fired and their was never an active shooter.
"A false rumor that there was an active shooter on the property generated widespread panic and fear," Broadway officials said in a statement on their Facebook page. "We know this was terrifying and we couldn’t be more sorry that this occurred."
Draper says that while they now know there was no shooter, the moments when they thought there was were “surreal.”
“There were thousands of people thinking they were about to die,” she said.