Haley says Atlantic Beach “shut the door” during Bikefest talks

Gov. Nikki Haley on Bikefest

Gov. Haley describes a decrease in crime during the 2016 Atlantic Beach Bike Festival.
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Gov. Haley describes a decrease in crime during the 2016 Atlantic Beach Bike Festival.

Gov. Nikki Haley addressed crime during Atlantic Beach Bikefest on Tuesday, saying the state would continue to lend a hand to improve life for residents during the event.

She said that attempts to work with Atlantic Beach to increase tourism in exchange for ending Atlantic Beach Bikefest have been unsuccessful.

“We tried talking to Atlantic Beach, and they pretty much shut the door in our face,” she said. “I had my director of tourism go talk to Atlantic Beach and they listened to him and they basically said no to everything we had to offer.”

Atlantic Beach officials either declined to comment or couldn’t be reached Tuesday.

Atlantic Beach councilwoman Josephine Isom said she was out of town and couldn’t comment on the matter, and Timothy Taylor, the town’s police chief, referred questions to City Manager Benjamin Quattlebaum and Mayor Jake Evans.

Numerous attempts to contact Evans, councilmen Lenearl Evans, Kenneth McLaurin and Quattlebaum were unsuccessful.

They shut the door in our face.

Nikki Haley on Atlantic Beach officials

Haley addressed Bikefest after speaking to the Rotary Club of Georgetown at Chacon’s of Georgetown.

She said that crime at the event this year had decreased since 2015, despite three shootings this year, including the death of 23-year-old Pierre Allen who died less than an hour after being shot at the Fountainbleau Inn off Ocean Boulevard early Friday morning.

There were no shooting deaths in 2015.

Haley said she remained in touch with the South Carolina Department of Public Safety and the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division during the event.

“This year what we saw was a decrease of about 40 percent, coming just because of the traffic loop and not finding it to be quite as fun,” Haley said. “The concern with that was the rain. It forced everybody to go into the hotels, and that’s when you saw the shootings.”

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

Haley said that officials will continue to work to improve the event.

“What we’ll do is continue to focus on this area so it’s good for the residents who live here,” she said.

In 2014, when three people were killed in shootings during Memorial Day weekend, Haley said that “no revenue is worth the bad press” that the bike festival received.

What we’ll do is continue to focus on this area so it’s good for the residents who live here.


“There are no revenues worth the lack of tourism that we will lose because of what happened this past weekend,” she said at the time. “It is time for that Bikefest to come to an end.”

Haley had offered economic support to the city if it ended the festival. Town officials have said that Bikefest isn’t going anywhere.

In 2015, Haley praised law enforcement for their job, and attributed their success to the sensitivity training attended by the more than 600 officers who worked during the event.

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.

Christian Boschult, 843-626-0218, @CBOSCH192

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