Myrtle Beach Bike Rallies

Bikefest attendees question new rules, extra security measures

Dwane King (left) and Dashaun Stephens load their bikes on a trailer in the Walmart parking lot for the trip home to Tabor City, N.C. on Monday morning at 2 a.m. Their two families have attended Bikefest for 15 years and say they always try to leave early to spend Memorial Day with family.
Dwane King (left) and Dashaun Stephens load their bikes on a trailer in the Walmart parking lot for the trip home to Tabor City, N.C. on Monday morning at 2 a.m. Their two families have attended Bikefest for 15 years and say they always try to leave early to spend Memorial Day with family. jlee@thesunnews

Some festival goers didn’t let the barricades, the traffic loop, the extra police presence or the rainy weather of a tropical storm spoil their time at the 2016 Atlantic Beach Bikefest.

Others saw the extra public safety measures – only put in place for that event, colloquially-termed “Black Bike Week” and enacted last year to curb the violence officers saw in 2014 – as a racist unwelcome mat.

“I feel like they’re trying to take the fun out of it. I feel like there’s some racist (expletive) going on,” said Smoke Gambino, an independent rap artist from Atlanta, Ga., who was getting ready to leave Monday morning. “Four years ago, it used to be straight fun.”

But the extra law enforcement, the barricades and the traffic loop that made him and others feel caged like animals wasn’t fun, he said.

“We’re not in prison,” said his friend, who goes by the name Scool Boy. “If y’all don’t want people to break the law, why make so many laws and so many rules?”

At least two golf cart operators were cited for operating golf carts at nighttime, which is against state law.

Myrtle Beach police Chief Warren Gall said that golf carts were an issue during the traffic loop last year, but officers were unable to enforce the state law because of a rewrite of the South Carolina ordinance that stripped the law’s penalty provision.

I feel like if Myrtle Beach wants to make money they need to let … (people) have fun.

Smoke Gambino, visiting from Atlanta, Ga.

Myrtle Beach leaders added new language to a city code that made the offense a misdemeanor, punishable by law, last month.

Less than a week before Bikefest the city issued a new order that banned golf carts from Ocean Boulevard over the weekend, leading to at least one citation.

Three people died and seven were injured in eight shootings at hotels on Ocean Boulevard during the 2014 Memorial Day weekend, prompting Gov. Nikki Haley to call for an end to Bikefest. Grand Strand officials put several measures in place to try to curb the violence last year, such as a 23-mile traffic loop and pedestrian barricades.

A man led police on a chase to a cheering crowd along Ocean Boulevard on Sunday, all while in handcuffs. The officers had the suspect, whose name and charges were not available, in handcuffs and were about to put him on a gurney when he bolted.

And in 2015, officials said their efforts seemed to work, citing fewer arrests and only two shootings that resulted in no fatalities.

But despite their continuing efforts to maintain order and keep the peace, police still had many calls to keep them busy this year.

Two were injured and one was killed in six shootings in Myrtle Beach this weekend.

Pierre Auntral Allen, 23, of Andrews was shot at the Fountainbleau Inn, 701 Flagg St., shortly after 2 a.m. Friday.

Allen was pronounced dead from mass trauma due to the gunshot wound at Grand Strand Medical Center less than an hour later. Police are still investigating the case and have interviewed several witnesses, according to Capt. David Knipes of the Myrtle Beach Police Department.

Officers are still working to identify and locate the shooter.

At 9:30 a.m. Friday, a woman told police a bullet barely missed her as she struggled with an armed robbery suspect over her cellphone at the Monterey Bay Suites at 6804 N. Ocean Blvd.

The 19-year-old woman and a 31-year-old man were asleep in a bed next to the hotel room door when they were awoken by a man standing in the doorway with a handgun, yelling “give me your money,” according to an incident report.

The woman told police she grabbed her cellphone and the suspect yelled at her to put it down. The two tussled over it until the suspect fired a gunshot that nearly hit the 19-year-old, police said.

The 31-year-old man told police he handed over $1,750 to the suspect, who then fled the scene. The incident is still under investigation.

Police were called to another report of shots fired at 5:30 a.m. Saturday at 899 Main St.

When officers arrived they found Kelvin Cornelius Thomas Jr., 27, sleeping inside a vehicle with an empty gun holster on his belt, according to a police report. Officers found two shell casings behind Thomas’ vehicle and confirmed there was a fight between several males in the area and shots were fired.

No injuries were reported and Thomas was not cited in the shooting, but was arrested for loitering.

Two were injured and one was killed in six shootings reported in Myrtle Beach over Memorial Day weekend.

Police responded to shots fired from a car at 17th Avenue South and Yaupon Drive around 11:50 p.m. Saturday. A witness told officers that he was working the barricades at the intersection when a passenger leaned outside the car and fired one to two shots after the witness told the passenger he couldn’t let him past the barricade. No one was injured in the shooting.

Police issued a be-on-the-lookout for the suspects, but no arrests had been made as of Monday afternoon.

Another man, identified in a police report as Jermaine Smith, 34, was shot after a dispute around 1:30 a.m. Sunday in front of the Holiday Sands North hotel at 400 N. Ocean Blvd. Smith’s condition remains unknown.

James Anthony Dwyer, 18, was arrested and charged with attempted murder in the case. But officers say Shaylan Charvoris Isaac, 21, allegedly fired the shots that sent Smith to the hospital, then fled the scene. Isaac is wanted for attempted murder and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony.

Less than 24 hours later, another man was found shot inside a fifth floor room at the Landmark Resort at 1501 S. Ocean Blvd. The man was transported to the hospital and his condition is still unknown.

No arrests have been made in the shooting, according to Knipes, but the case remains under investigation. Police urge anyone with information to call 843-918-1382.

In addition to the shootings, 11 motorcycle crashes were reported Friday night, spurring officers to encourage motorists to slow down and use caution as Tropical Storm Bonnie lumbered toward the coast. The storm brought rain and with it the threat of more wrecks, but no traffic fatalities were reported in Horry County over the weekend.

More than 550 citations, however, were issued in Myrtle Beach between the wee hours of Friday morning and Monday afternoon.

Ocean Boulevard was relatively quiet on Saturday evening as the rain from Bonnie deterred most bikers from hitting the strip. But vacationers didn’t let the rain or the armed officers at nearly every block spoil their good time.

“It was all right. They didn’t bother me. I didn’t bother them,” Brandon Sheffield said of the extra police presence.

We had a great time.

Da’Jour Williams, visiting with friends from Sumter

Sheffield, of Daytona Beach, Fla., stood outside near the Coral Beach Resort and Suites Monday morning as the clouds opened up to reveal the blue sky hidden from bikers Saturday night. This weekend wasn’t his first Bikefest and he said it won’t be his last.

“We had a great time,” said Da’Jour Williams, who came with his friends from Sumter.

He said they too would return.

But it was a different story for Smoke Gambino.

The rap artist, who worked to promote his music during his stay, said the city is hurting itself by scaring away tourism and the money he and other tourists bring – visitors who now question whether to return to Myrtle Beach.

“Altogether I spent like $4,500,” he said. “I feel like if Myrtle Beach wants to make money they need to let … (people) have fun.”

Gambino said this was his third and his last Bikefest in Myrtle Beach.

Thirty-five years ago Atlantic Beach Bikefest started across a few blocks in Atlantic Beach. Now, the annual Memorial Day weekend event spreads miles across Myrtle Beach. While the old-timers prefer the quaint gathering up north, younger crowds a

Emily Weaver: 843-444-1722, @TSNEmily

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