Sunday, January 3, 2010

NMB: Bailey 'misled' administration in stolen gun report

NORTH MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - North Myrtle Beach Public Safety Director William Bailey has been placed on administrative leave after an investigation revealed a handgun stolen out of his personal vehicle was not properly secured.

Horry County Police were dispatched to Bailey's home after the director reported two of his personal vehicles had been broken into between 10 p.m. Sunday and 8 a.m. Monday. Bailey told police he became suspicious of criminal activity after noticing his truck, parked in his driveway, had been left unlocked throughout the night.

After opening the driver's side door of the truck, a police report states Bailey found papers thrown over the seats and the glove compartment and center console opened. A handgun stored in the glove compartment, Horry County Police say, was among the items taken from the vehicle.

Bailey later discovered his wife's car, parked inside of a garage, had also been tampered with. Items were strewn across the inside of the vehicle, but Bailey was unable to identify any stolen items.

Further questioning of Bailey's family revealed his son discovered what he calls a "suspicious man" in the neighborhood around 2:30 a.m. on Dec. 21. When Bailey's son pulled over his vehicle to question why the man was in the area, he said he was visiting his girlfriend.

The man then proceeded to reach into his camouflage backpack, for what Bailey's son presumed to be a gun, and drove off. Bailey's son told police he returned to his home, grabbed two baseball bats, and unsuccessfully attempted to track the unidentified man down.

On Wednesday, North Myrtle Beach officials released a statement revealing Bailey had been placed on administrative leave after an investigation revealed Bailey's glovebox did not have a lock on it. As stated in an incident report, Bailey's gun could not have been safely stored inside of his truck.

Officials say the statements made by Bailey misled North Myrtle Beach administration about the security of the weapon.

"I take full responsibility and regret my actions regarding how the weapon was stored and the statements made by the City to media on December 29 saying the weapon was secured in a locked glove box. I made those statements to administration and approved their release," said Bailey.

"The nature of any disciplinary action is considered a personnel matter," added North Myrtle Beach City Manager John Smithson. "The City of North Myrtle Beach apologizes for the incorrect information and will be working diligently to correct it and the actions taken by Director Bailey."

In a statement prepared by the City of North Myrtle Beach, spokeswoman Nicole Aiello says the stolen gun was property of North Myrtle Beach and identified it as Bailey's back-up weapon. His primary weapon was in his possession at the time of the incident.

Aiello says it is now Bailey's responsibility to pay for and replace the stolen semi-automatic handgun.

Horry County Police say Bailey's report adds to five others filed on breaking and entering complaints in the Little River subdivision.

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