On the first Friday of the semester, students waited in long lines outside of Conway’s American Tavern.
College students composed much of the crowd, impatiently waiting to celebrate syllabus week. Little did they know, if they were to leave at last call, they would be leaving in a rush, fleeing the sound of multiple gunshots.
The night began without any hint of suspicious activity. After getting ready with friends, and a few drinking games, we left to go to the American Tavern. After a few hours of $1 vodkas, losing at pool, and the bar closing early because someone had a machete, my friends and I left.
We went to ask one of our friends, who is a bouncer at the bar, to drive us home. Immediately he looked at us and the words and replied: “You need to get to the side of the building, there’s someone threatening to shoot.”
Due to recent shootings across the country, I was unsure whether the attack was a personal matter or a massive assault on the bar patrons.
Before I could react, I heard a loud noise similar to fireworks, but the sky remained black. Screaming followed.
I was too afraid to turn around because I did not know what I was going to see. All of a sudden, a red Dodge Charger left the American Tavern parking lot at full speed and drove to the Circle K gas station across the street.
Red and blue lights lit up the sky as eight police cars rushed to the gas station seconds afterward.
This experience left me ill at ease and loaded down with unanswered questions. I was thankful my friends were safe, but I was unaware of the victim’s state.
What if my friends and I were at the wrong spot of the parking lot at the wrong time? If the bouncer had not told us to get against the side of the building, we may have crossed through the parking lot to get home in that dangerous moment. Anyone at that bar including us could’ve been injured or worse. There was a release stating the bar knew of a potential shooting. Why did the bar not vocalize this to the patrons?
Questions continued to flood my head as more information was released.
The shooting occurred due to a confrontation between two South Carolina residents. The victim was looking to fight the shooter, before the assailant drew a weapon.
Did this confrontation happen at the bar? Was the shooter at the bar with the gun?
The shooting occurred the same night the bar closed early due to a machete brought onto the property. What security checks are bars exercising in order to assure that college students are safe?
Unfortunately, one of these attacks did produce a fatality- the victim who was shot at the American Tavern died the next morning.
It is tragic and unsettling to think that someone died outside of a popular bar that mostly hosts Coastal Carolina students.
The university sent out alerts to some students, not all. I have been receiving alerts since I was a freshman and am unsure why my parents and I were not notified about the incident. The university sent out a report about the location of the shooting which turned out to be untrue.
Coastal Carolina stated that the crime took place at the Circle K gas station and warned students to stay away from the area, while the police report states that the crime occurred at the American Tavern, where many Coastal Carolina students were at the time.
Based on the lack of communication from the university and the American Tavern, I am not sure when I will feel safe again on a night out.
My prayers go out to the victim’s family. I hope they find peace in knowing that the two shooters involved in the crime were arrested and charged with the murder of their son.