Officers involved in deadly Myrtle Beach shooting identified; witness details the scene

Two veteran police officers were involved in Saturday’s deadly shooting in Myrtle Beach.

Cpl. Daniel Preciado, who has 15 years of experience, and patrol officer Thad Morgan, who has five years of experience, were both reassigned to administrative duties following the incident, Myrtle Beach police said.

About 2 a.m. Saturday, two officers shot and killed Matthew Graham, 32, of Loris, near 65th Avenue North. Officers said he was spotted with a stolen bicycle and was holding a rifle before the shooting, according to police reports. There were also breaks-ins on Friday night that may have been connected to Graham.

Ralph Wendling lives off 65th Avenue and noted there have been ongoing drug issues in the neighborhood.

On Friday night, Wendling laid down around 9:30 and woke up about an hour later to the lights of police cruisers. He said officers were searching for a suspect in the backyard of a 65th Avenue residence. Wendling said he believed the suspect was Graham.

A police report detailing the deadly shooting states that police created a barricade around 65th Avenue North around midnight to search for Graham in connection to a burglary.

“It was almost like a hostage situation,” Wendling said.

A small crowd watched but at one point officers told the bystanders they had to get back because the suspect had a rifle, Wendling said. The people took cover behind cars and other objects, and as the standoff dragged on, Wendling said he went to a nearby bar for a snack and a drink.

He returned home around 1 a.m. and saw a police cruiser blocking part of 65th Avenue North. He asked the officers if the situation was peacefully resolved, then several police cars went speeding past.

“Then I heard, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom,” Wendling said.

Both Myrtle Beach police and the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division are investigating the incident.

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Alex Lang is the True Crime reporter for The Sun News covering the legal system and how crime impacts local residents. He says letting residents know if they are safe is a vital role of a newspaper. Alex has covered crime in Detroit, Iowa, New York City, West Virginia and now Horry County.