An unauthorized concert in South Carolina ended in carnage when a shooting broke out at the scene. Police in North Charleston had no forewarning of the event, which led to several injuries and the death of one teenage girl. Now, the community takes stock of the tragedy and asks how it could have been avoided.
The concert took place in a field near a small neighborhood in North Charleston on Saturday, May 22. In a press conference the following day, North Charleston Police Chief Reggie Burgess called the concert an “unauthorized event.”
“We in law enforcement had no clue about this,” Burgess told the press. “If we would have, we would have probably been able to save lives.”
Burgess said the violence began when a fight broke out in the crowd around 10:30 pm. Before long, gunshots began to ring out.
“Individuals were angry with each other and they didn’t care who got hit,” Burgess said.
The chief told press that multiple shooters were responsible for the gunfire, though no suspects have been caught. Police are investigating whether an unknown “security” force advertised on the concert’s fliers were involved in the shooting.
Multiple outlets reported that at least 13 were injured in the shooting, with one teen dead. That victim has since been identified as 14-year-old Ronjanae Smith.
“It’s sad, it’s unfortunate, and it’s a ridiculous time in our lives, in this world, that we’re standing right here today, on a Sunday, a day of worship, grieving a 14-year-old that lost her life,” said Burgess.
In a letter released on Monday, May 24, Smith’s father Ronald remembered his daughter.
“The fact that I will no longer be able to get a simple ‘I love you daddy’ text or be able to FaceTime with her or simply hit the like button on a post she makes is so disheartening,” the father said.
Ronald Smith also urged the community to come together to end gun violence, while praising the work of local police.
Meanwhile, community activists called for friends and family to let the police investigate without interference.
“We want the police to handle this case,” said local pastor Thomas Ravenell. “No retaliation by family or friends or anybody. Those of us who have been there know how hard it is to lose a loved one and stand idle.”
Chief Burgess also took a moment to point out that the unauthorized event’s organizers had set up a bar to make money through illegal alcohol sales.
“They made money at the cost of a life,” Burgess said. “They made money victimizing people.”
The North Charleston Police Department has asked anyone with information on the case to contact them at (843) 554-5700.