911 calls during downtown riot reveal anger, fear

Updated: Jun. 10, 2020 at 10:52 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Just released 911 calls reveal anger and fear during the downtown riots in May.

Dozens of businesses on upper King Street were vandalized and looted during a protest over George Floyd’s death that turned violent.

“May 30th was a terrible and traumatic night for our city, and arresting the perpetrators is our number one priority. We will not rest until the people who did this have been prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” Charleston Police Chief Luther Reynolds said.

Several of the calls were made by business owners who complained about a lack of police presence.

“This is my second call, where the **** are ya’ll?” Steve Palmer, who owns O-Ku restaurant is heard saying in one call.

“I got people shooting guns, I don’t care. I’m a business owner, I’ve got glass broken, people are shooting. Do you understand? There are people with guns in my restaurant. Get off your *** and get here,” Palmer says in the call.

The owner of Uncork Charleston also criticized the police response in a 911 call.

“My place has been destroyed by people. The police are ******* nowhere to be seen,” Ken Schneider tells the operator.

“I’m sick and tired of watching on the news you ******* guys standing there at Calhoun and King Street while upper King got destroyed and not one police officer came to help while my staff is huddled in the back of this place, are you serious?” Schneider said in the call.

Calls were also made by frightened employees at JohnKing Grill and Bar on upper King Street.

“I called a while ago, now shots fired, shots fired outside,” the owner tells the operator during the call.

“Ok, has anybody been hit?” the operator asks.

“I don’t know, I’m not going outside, I’m the owner of the restaurant and I’m inside protecting my employees,” he told the operator.

In another call, the operator tries to console a sobbing employee at JohnKing.

“Keep yourself locked in a safe place, I let the officers know where you are,” he tells her during the call.

“We think people are coming inside, we’re all hiding right now, but we just heard something like gunfire inside the restaurant. Please, I’m terrified for my life right now,” she tells the operator.

We have reached out to the City of Charleston for a response to the 911 calls.

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