Free vodka samples, grilled chicken and hamburgers marked the re-opening of Port City Liquors in North Charleston, a festive occasion with an undercurrent of tragedy and mystery because of the unsolved murder of the previous owner.

“There was a sadness here,” said Mayor Keith Summey. “Part of the sadness is we have never been able to solve the mystery.”

In April, Matthew Renken was fatally shot in the head while working in the store after-hours. Police found a disheveled scene of broken liquor bottles, an unhooked telephone, a handgun and an unlocked back door.

“It’s been really a quagmire to figure out what happened. It’s one of those freakish things,” Summey said.

Because of the circumstances, “Somebody had to know somebody. It may be a shocker to all of us,” Summey said.

Summey noted there had been no major incidents in the shopping center where the liquor store is located since the shooting death of Renken. Police checking businesses on routine patrol will keep an eye on the liquor store, he said.

A poster in a store window offered an $11,000 reward. “Who killed Matthew Renken?” it said. Tipsters can call Crimestopper at 554-1111.

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