Man banned from Florence County hotel prior to hostage situation

FLORENCE, SC (WBTW) – Florence County Sheriff’s Office (FCSO) officials say Friday morning Mark Travis Jenkins held another man hostage at the Travelhouse Inn on Highway 52 near I95.

News13’s Kiahnna Patterson spoke with hotel clerk that was held, hostage. He recognized Jenkins because he was banned from renting at the hotel just six months ago.

The owner of the hotel says he does not want this to represent this hotel. He allowed News13 to view the ‘Do Not Rent’ list. The list says Mark Jenkins cannot rent a room for soliciting and owes the hotel money.

Dozens of Florence County Sheriff’s Office deputies, Florence police officers, and SC Highway Patrol troopers surrounded the Travelhouse Inn starting around 9AM Friday morning.

After dispatchers received a call from the hotel clerk.

Robert Strickland woke up to the sirens and helicopters.

“I called the front desk to see what was going on and somebody answered the phone that I didn’t recognize,” said Strickland.

Strickland believes he was on the phone with Jenkins. While on the phone, he says he heard his friend, the front desk clerk, being held, hostage.

“He [the hotel clerk] asked the dude [Jenkins] to let him talk to me. He got on the phone and told me to stay in my room,” explained Strickland.

He says Jenkins demanded drugs in exchange for his friend.

“Come get this hundred dollars I got and this will be over with,” Strickland said the suspect told him.

SWAT teams evacuated people staying in the hotel. News13 crews witness truckloads of people being taken from the back of the building to the front.

Shakila Bruce and her husband were sleeping at the hotel when police knocked on the door and escorted them out the back of the hotel.

“We didn’t know what was going on. Once we saw all of the police, I don’t know, we both just got scared and I started freaking out,” said Bruce. She said the situation gave her an anxiety attack.

FCSO Chief Deputy Glenn Kirby says negotiators worked to make a deal with Jenkins.

“He said he wanted help but he wanted us to furnish him some drugs and we refused to do that. We just negotiated him going to the hospital to get help,”  said Kirby.

Kirby says he believes Jenkins did not have a gun with him when he walked out the front door with the hostage and surrendered around noon.

“All of this was because he wanted to obtain a quantity of drugs,” said Kirby.

Kirby says warrants are signed for kidnapping and possession of a weapon during the commission of a violent crime.

Jenkins was taken to the hospital for a mental evaluation and released.

No word on when Jenkins will have a bond hearing.