‘A scary situation’: Witnesses and residents react to King St. early-morning shooting

Published: Sep. 4, 2022 at 6:08 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 5, 2022 at 12:30 AM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - After an early-morning shooting on a busy street in downtown Charleston injured five, bystanders and witnesses share their stories.

The shooting took place on King Street around 12:55 a.m. Sunday morning as officers responded to gunshots.

A massive police, fire, and EMS presence in response to the King Street shooting.
A massive police, fire, and EMS presence in response to the King Street shooting.(Live 5)

Brandon Michael Walter, King Street Bar Manager, said he saw a plethora of cops up and down the street once shots were fired.

“I had heard the music stop,” Walter said. “I was curious what’s going on and come down the stairs and like everybody’s surprisingly calm. It was an eerie type of calm as though I feel like everybody was like, ‘Did I just hear that?’”

Walter said downtown businesses all shut down immediately after the shooting and police officers gathered information before escorting people safely back to their cars. He says the police handled the situation very well.

Since it was Labor Day weekend, many downtown bars and restaurants were still very full at 1 a.m. John Smith, who was inside a bar during the shooting, said he was highly concerned.

“I saw all these people just like running through the streets,” Smith said. “We run back and we’re taking cover behind the bar, then everybody else kind of sees us go back and does the same.”

Many Charleston residents like Susan Rawls are still downtown talking about the incident.

“Well, it’s scary and it’s really shocking,” Rawls said. “I hope the police are able to figure out what happened and why are people behaving so violently in our society, it’s awful.”

With Charleston bringing in many tourists, King Street businesses mentioned concern about how the shooting may impact sales.

“I think that is definitely going to be more difficult to have people feel more comfortable and safe,” Walter said. “I mean, Charleston is a city of hospitality and you would like to associate that with those that are not going to have gunshots per-se. I’m hoping that people know that this may very well be an isolated situation, but some stupid people who don’t know how to be proper gun owners.”

Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg released a statement in response to the “recent acts of violence in Charleston,” that include the Sunday morning shooting and a separate West Ashley shooting that hurt a 13-year-old.

So far this year, we’ve lost nine souls to violence here in Charleston -- which, sadly and remarkably, appears to be somewhat below the statewide average. But let’s be honest: With more than 30 shootings to date, including those last night, that number could be much higher. In fact, if it weren’t for our police officers’ advanced trauma training, the Medical University’s world-class emergency unit, and the grace of a loving God, it would be much higher.

The five victims of the King Street shooting are all adults and were taken to be treated at area hospitals. None of the injuries are life-threatening, according to the Charleston Police Department.

Officers detained a number of people during their investigation and arrested and charged two people with firearm violations.

Police say the investigation is ongoing and anyone with information is asked to call the Charleston Police Department at 843-743-7200. Anyone who wishes to remain anonymous can call CrimeStoppers of the Lowcountry at 843-554-1111.