SUMMERVILLE — The aunt of one of three people shot to death in Myrtle Beach on Memorial Day weekend said Wednesday that the hearts of family members are broken and urged the public to help them find out what happened.
“We need you to help us. We need information as to what happened here,” Melody Gaddis McFadden told reporters at a news conference where police urged anyone with information about the slayings to come forward. “Don’t wait until it’s your family. Don’t wait until it’s your child.”
McFadden is the aunt of Sandy Gaddis Barnwell, 22, of Summerville, who was killed outside a Myrtle Beach motel during the weekend, when the annual Atlantic Beach Bikefest is held. Jamie Williams, 28, of Ladson, and Devonte Dantzler, 21, of Summerville were also killed.
Seven other people also were wounded in shootings in communities outside Atlantic Beach. The violence has prompted Gov. Nikki Haley to call for an end to the biker festival, which is held each Memorial Day weekend in the predominantly black community.
Myrtle Beach Police Detective Will Kitelinger came to Summerville to meet with family members and urge anyone in the Charleston area with information to come forward. About 20 members of the victim’s families attended the news conference.
The detective said Myrtle Beach Police have interviewed dozens of people and followed up on dozens of leads. “Some of that information led us to the fact that perhaps there were people in this local community that had additional information and for whatever reason were unable to or unwilling to come forward,” he said.
Police have said the shootings resulted from a large fight and afterward said they thought they could have been gang-related. But on Wednesday, Kitelinger said he had no information “that the cause of the homicides was related to any gang stuff whatsoever.”
Kitelinger said it has been a tough case to crack because the people involved in the shooting may have been among the tens of thousands of people who were just visiting the Myrtle Beach area over the holiday weekend.
“It’s a very, very difficult case for law enforcement. The victims were visiting. It’s also possible the suspects were visiting,” he said. “The suspects who perpetrated this crime could very well be from a different part of the United States altogether.”
Last month, Haley visited Atlantic Beach and urged the town council to end the biker festival. In return, she said, the state would work with the town to transform it into a family-friendly destination that tourists from across the nation will visit.
Mayor Jake Evans has repeatedly said the town has no plans to end the Bikefest.
AP Photo/Bruce Smith Melody Gaddis McFadden, left, and Sadie Bernia Gaddis appear at a news conference Wednesday, in Summerville, in which police asked for public help in solving a triple slaying in Myrtle Beach over the Memorial Day weekend.×