(ISLE OF PALMS, S.C.) — A South Carolina beach partially filled with high school students participating in a “senior skip day” descended into chaos Friday afternoon as gunfire injured at least six beachgoers.
Isle of Palms Police Chief Kevin Cornett said that five of the six injured were teenagers, though one older beachgoer was also injured. Police were already at the beach responding to two fights when the shooting began around roughly 5:20 p.m. on Friday afternoon, according to Cornett.
“A large crowd of individuals that apparently were part of a group from senior skip day had gathered on the beach,” Cornett said at an evening press conference. “There were a couple of altercations that took place and during one of those altercations, there were several shots that were fired.”
Cornett said that his department has multiple suspects in custody, though they do not know if they have the actual shooter detained at this point. Law enforcement also recovered multiple firearms at the beach which was shut down after the incident.
“We have weapons recovered, but we cannot say that they were the weapons involved in the incident,” Cornett said.
Video from the scene of the shooting showed hundreds of beachgoers running from the area amid a cacophony of screaming and police sirens.
Some of the victims were transported by ambulance to a local area hospital though authorities confirmed that multiple others self-transported. The shooting prompted a massive response from local, state and federal agencies, according to Cornett.
Cornett said that his department had preemptively ramped up the number of officers on duty in anticipation of the spring break increase in beach activity as seniors participating in the “skip day” tradition took the Friday off before Spring break en masse.
“It is heart-wrenching to hear of this senseless act of violence, especially so close to home,” South Carolina Senator Tim Scott said of the incident online.
With a population of roughly 4,000 residents, Isle of Palms is a coastal city located on a barrier island in Charleston County.
“This should have been a joyous occasion for high school students on Senior ‘Skip Day’,” South Carolina congresswoman Nancy Mace said. “Incredibly sad, and just horrific.”
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