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3 dead in shooting at Myrtle Beach, S.C. motel

Ocean Boulevard was closed to vehicle traffic for about eight blocks as Myrtle Beach Police investigated multiple shootings late Saturday.

Janet Blackmon Morgan/The Sun News/AP

Ocean Boulevard was closed to vehicle traffic for about eight blocks as Myrtle Beach Police investigated multiple shootings late Saturday.

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (AP) — Three people were killed and a fourth person was wounded in a shooting at an oceanfront motel in Myrtle Beach, one of South Carolina’s most popular tourist destinations.

The shootings took place around 11 p.m. Saturday in front of crowds of tourists at the Bermuda Sands Motel along the beach’s new boardwalk, Myrtle Beach Police Capt. David Knipes said.

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Officers draped towels over the balcony of a breezeway just outside the doors to the rooms of the motel to shield two of the bodies from people on nearby Ocean Boulevard.

‘‘We've got detectives working on it around the clock,’’ Knipes said Sunday. ‘‘We don’t have any suspects in custody.’’

Knipes would not say whether detectives have determined a motive for the shooting, but said it didn’t appear to be a random shooting.

Witnesses and police said the shootings happened when a large fight broke out in front of the motel.

Police said one gunman fired three shots, wounding a man. He was hospitalized, but his condition wasn’t immediately available.

The people involved in the fight then fled into the hotel onto the second floor, police said.

As officers were tending to the wounded man, a second suspect on the second floor fired multiple shots at people involved in the fight, striking and killing three.

The victims were Devonte Dantzler, 21, of Summerville; Sandy Gaddis Barnwell, 22, of Summerville; and Jamie Williams, 28, of Ladson, said Horry County deputy coroner Darris Fowler.

‘‘We had just come up the stairs when the guy got shot. My husband saw when he fell right in front of our room,’’ said Megan Sloan, who lives in Salisbury, North Carolina, and was on vacation.

A police officer quickly knocked on their door and asked Sloan and her husband to stay in their room. They didn’t realize until Sunday morning that three people had died.

The couple wanted to change motels for their last day in Myrtle Beach.

‘‘It scared me to death. We tried to get our money back, but they wouldn’t give it back,’’ Sloan said.

The shooting happened during the annual Atlantic Beach BikeFest held about 15 miles (24 kilometers) away during the Memorial Day weekend. Police say they typically deal with motorcycle wrecks and lesser offenses during the bike rally, but violence is unusual.

Knipes said Myrtle Beach had just two homicides in all of 2013.

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