Kristina McGovern, a shift supervisor, was mixing lattes, frappuccinos and holiday drinks at Starbucks in Tanger Outlets 2 like it was any other Saturday afternoon.
But the night before, her shift was anything but typical.
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Just a few stores away Friday evening, Sgt. Raymond Heroux with the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office was in the middle of conducting a traffic stop with a driver he had pulled over in the Nike Factory Store parking lot in the Tanger 2 shopping center.
According to a news release from the sheriff’s office, the driver, Akeem Jenkins, 21, of Hilton Head Island, put his car in reverse, trapping Heroux in the open driver’s side door. As Heroux was dragged through the parking lot, he drew his gun and fired at Jenkins.
EMS arrived on the scene and found suspected drugs of a trafficking weight on Jenkins, according to deputies. The drugs tested positive for cocaine, they said.
Heroux was transported to Hilton Head Regional Medical Center and was later released. Jenkins was airlifted to Memorial University Medical Center in Savannah, where he remains and is expected to be charged with trafficking cocaine, a felony, as the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division continues its investigation.
As the situation unfolded, McGovern, Starbucks employees and customers didn’t have a clue what was happening.
She said around 6 p.m. a Salty Dog employee walked into Starbucks and told McGovern to lock the doors because there was an incident involving a gun in the shopping center. McGovern said there were about 10 people inside at the time. They watched police cars, an ambulance and even a helicopter swarm the area.
When she called her boss, he told McGovern that she needed to tell customers to leave and close the coffee shop. At first, patrons told her they were scared to go outside, so she walked out of the cafe to show them that everything was fine.
“We weren’t really scared; we just tried to help people out,” she said. “We felt bad that we had to kick people out.”
McGovern said she and her coworkers watched as the neighboring Zales Outlet turned off the store lights and put up security gates. Tanger 2 quickly became a ghost town, she said.
“We were the only ones with lights on,” she said.
During the initial chaos, McGovern said story after story was passed around as Tanger 2 employees stopped by Starbucks to talk about what was going on. They heard that someone had a gun by the Harry & David store and that a robbery had possibly taken place, which changed into a tale that the Nike store had been robbed.
“It was just a bunch of stories going around,” she said.
McGovern called her manager every 10 minutes to let him know they were all right.
“We’re all family here, so we take care of each other,” she said.
Two hours after locking their doors, McGovern said they got the all clear. She said Ashley Doepp, the general manager of Tanger Outlets, made rounds to each of the stores to let them know what was going on.
The next morning, McGovern said she had to complete an incident report to submit to Starbucks, but everything else seemed the same. New employees came into the store for their second day of training, and customers piled into the coffee house to order drinks as they shopped.
At the Nike store, customer Amy Knight of Bluffton said she hadn’t even heard about the shooting and that Saturday afternoon didn’t seem any different to her.
“Normally, when we’re in here, it’s a lot less crowded,” she said.