Surfside mayor addresses residents' concerns after deadly beach party shooting

April 11, 2012 7:56:12 AM PDT
Twenty-six-year-old Derek Milam was in the middle of what was supposed to be a fun beach party Saturday in Surfside. Instead, it turned into a chaotic sea of several thousand people.

Now the people who live in the area are demanding to know what went wrong.

The violence erupted Saturday evening on Surfside Beach. While the issue wasn't on Tuesday night's city council agenda, residents there spent a lot of time talking about it.

It was standing-room only at Surfside City Hall. People were anxious to hear the mayor's explanation about how Saturday got quickly out of hand but certainly not ready to accept it.

From the start, Surfside Mayor Larry Davison was on the defensive.

"If we had had a 100 officers, they couldn't have controlled the number of people who came here," Davison said.

And residents didn't let up.

"We could have asked for help, we could have shut down the bridge a little earlier," homeowner Marshall Hefley said.

It was the first time Davison talked publicly about the big beach party that landed in Surfside Saturday and ended in a deadly shooting. Milam was killed and two other teenagers were wounded. Upwards of 10,000 people flocked to the island and the city struggled to keep up.

"It was a disaster. There's no defense. I can't sit here and defend any part of it," Davison said.

The mayor told residents they were aware on Friday of the possibility of a party, but the flyer had City Hall listed as the location and therefore it was dismissed as a hoax. As the crowds poured in Saturday, it was too late.

"You can't haul someone out for coming to somewhere they think they're invited to," Davison said.

The city closed the beach and the bridge -- all before the shooting. Residents were critical of the city's response.

"I just think he was just put in a very dangerous position because somebody didn't believe in all the stuff that was on the internet and underestimated the power of the internet in the year 2012," resident Erminie Minard said.

And as they left Tuesday's meeting, residents were not convinced next time it will be better.

"Do you have confidence that next time it won't be as bad?" we asked homeowner Sharon Aust.

"Truthfully no. Next time hopefully I know about the party and we'll just stay in Houston," she said.

There are still no suspects in Saturday's shooting.

The mayor says they've now learned a hard lesson. He also had a stern warning for the promoter of that party, saying he hopes that person has assets because the city is coming after him.

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