South Carolina

‘It’s total chaos’: Calls from inside Waccamaw Bingo during double murder detail scene

A 911 call from inside Waccamaw Bingo details a double murder in July

Horry County police released 911 calls from inside Waccamaw Bingo outside of Myrtle Beach, SC moments after a double murder. Two people were charged in connection to the shooting.
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Horry County police released 911 calls from inside Waccamaw Bingo outside of Myrtle Beach, SC moments after a double murder. Two people were charged in connection to the shooting.

Panic, terror, confusion and hysteria overwhelmed patrons at Waccamaw Bingo on July 26, moments after the dozens witnessed a double murder.

“These people have been shot! They’re dying! Please hurry!” a woman who knew the victims told 911 dispatchers. “The owners have been shot! Will you guys be quiet?!” she screamed, trying to hear dispatchers.

“They’re lying in the floor, they’re dying!”

The nearly breathless woman, like a dozen of other 911 callers, were trying to report a shooting at the Myrtle Beach-area bingo hall. Dispatchers struggle to get people to focus and provide details so they can relay accurate information to police.

“Is everybody calm?,” a dispatcher asks a caller, minutes after the shooting.

“Everybody is pandemonium,” a caller says. “We’re all playing bingo. There is like 300 people here …

“We think two men have been shot, like two of the main people that worked here.”

Calls detail the scene

Steve Johnson Sr. and Steve “Sparky” Johnson Jr. were shot and killed at Waccamaw Bingo off U.S. Highway 501. The two owned the parlor and lived in the Sumter area.

Days after the shooting, Horry County police charged Derrick Rivera, 29, and Bratton Britton, 40, both of Georgetown County, with murder and other crimes related to the incident. Rivera was out on bond on attempted murder charges in Georgetown at the time of the bingo shootings.

On Wednesday, Horry County police released the 911 calls a dozen customers made mere minutes after the double-murder.

One caller inside the bingo hall could not provide many details to the dispatcher other than there was a shooting.

“I don’t know,” the woman says. “I’m in a closet.”

Emergency 911 calls from different patrons of Waccamaw Bingo, outside of Myrtle Beach, SC detailing the murder scene in the moments right after a double murder last month. The two owners died, and two people face homicide charges.

The dispatcher tells the caller that she needs to calm down and to breathe. A back-and-forth continues as the caller pants and talks in broken sentences, and the dispatcher pleads for her to focus.

“Please hurry. I want to go home!” the woman yells.

Another caller remains more calm, almost monotone, saying that one person was shot and people yell “oh my god” in the background.

“A black gentleman in a ski mask comes in to rob the place,” the caller said, adding the suspect left the inside of the hall. “I don’t know if they are outside. I’m not going outside.”

Vigil 3.jpg
Fran Georgia, who used to play at Waccamaw Bingo, signs a card held by Antonio Valintino for the parlor’s two owners who were killed during an attempted armed robbery on July 26. The shooting was reported around 9:45 p.m. on July 26. Alex Lang alang@thesunnews.com

Other callers fled the hall while they called 911. Horry County dispatch logs say some ran about a quarter of a mile to the Food Lion on Forestbrook Road.

“Everybody started to run and I ran,” a breathless caller stated. “I just saw one guy with dreads and ah, ah, a white T-shirt over his face or something, or a bandanna, or a white bandanaa. I don’t know. It was so fast, man. This was like three damn seconds. This was crazy.”

Dispatchers told a woman who left the area not to return, and police are on the way. As the suspects’ whereabouts were unknown, and residents in the nearby Tuscany subdivision were asked to shelter in place.

Inside the parlor, a woman claiming to be an EMT frantically tried to lock a backdoor, but was unsuccessful. She tried to give info to 911 as she walked to those trying to care for the Johnsons.

“They just came in and started shooting and everyone hit the ground,” the panting woman reported, “they shot like five shots, maybe six.”

“There’s two males and they are in bad shape.”

Horry County police arrived on scene within minutes, which can be heard at the end of some of the calls.

The caller who knew the family was nearly hysterical at that point.

“Oh God, I got to call the parents. I got to call somebody,” she said.

Vigil 5.jpg
Members of the Johnson family lead a prayer during a vigil at Waccamaw Bingo on July 29. Steve Johnson Sr. and Steve “Sparky” Johnson Jr. were shot and killed during an attempted armed robbery at the hall. Alex Lang alang@thesunnews.com

The woman said she has the suspect’s shoe, phone and the bag he tried to use to collect money, which was abandoned in the robbery. Her phone line remained open, but she did not respond to the 911 dispatchers on the line. She then can be heard calling Linda Johnson, Steve Sr.’s wife and Sparky’s mom.

“Steve and Sparky had just been shot. They were shot in the bingo,” the woman said as the 911 dispatcher asked if the officers arrived. “We just got robbed. They come in the back door and shot Sparky and Steve.”

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Alex Lang is the True Crime reporter for The Sun News covering the legal system and how crime impacts local residents. He says letting residents know if they are safe is a vital role of a newspaper. Alex has covered crime in Detroit, Iowa, New York City, West Virginia and now Horry County.
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