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Three relatives killed in Pitt County convenience store robbery

Posted April 2, 2012
Updated April 3, 2012

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— Three relatives, including a 16-year-old high school student, were shot and killed in an armed robbery at a Pitt County convenience store Sunday night.

Three armed men burst into the Hustle Mart in Farmville and shot the store owner's son, Mokbel Mohamed "Sam" Almujanhi, 16, as he mopped the floor, according to sheriff's investigators. They also shot the owner's nephew, Nabil Nasser Saeed Al'mogannahi, 26, and cousin, Gaber Alawi, 24.

Around 10 p.m., a customer couldn't find anyone to help her in the store at Stantonsburg Road and N.C. Highway 121, so she looked behind the counter and discovered the men lying on the floor, investigators said. One was pronounced dead at the scene, while the two others died at the hospital.

Farmville residents and pastors gathered to pray at the store Monday. They expressed shock at the shootings, especially the teen, who was a "very well-liked" 10th-grader at Farmville Central High School, according to school spokeswoman Heather Mayo. Classmates put a tribute to him on the store window.

Tony Muhssen, a cousin of the victims, spoke out on Tuesday about the shooting.

"A father lost his only son. Sam was only 16 years old...(he was) a great person," Muhssen said.

Farmville residents mourn for shooting victims Family member speaks out about Farmville shooting

Kelvin Reid, one of Sam Almujahni's classmates, helped organize a candlelight vigil Monday evening for his friend. Hundreds of people showed up to mourn.

Pastor Mickey Fields shared Scriptures with mourners. During the week, he was the teen's school bus driver.

"My heart is saddened – I'm pretty sure, like everybody else – and distraught that something like this would happen," he said. "I pray that justice will be served for such a wonderful person."

"We don't understand how this could happen in our community," said Preston Hartley. "We are all scared. This has hurt the whole town."

All three victims were family members from Yemen, and they were hardworking, kind people, customers said. Al'mogannahi and Mokbel had moved from New York to help run the store after Al'mogannahi's brother suffered health problems.

"If you come in this store and you didn't have money, didn't have quite enough money, they would lend you the money," said customer Mattie Harper.

Hundreds attend vigil for Farmville shooting victims Hundreds attend vigil for Farmville shooting victims

Pitt County Sheriff Neil Elks said investigators were getting a huge amount of tips after the reward money was increased to $10,000. Crime Stoppers has offered a reward of up to $5,000 for anonymous tips that help solve the crime. The victims' family added another $5,000 to that reward.

Police set up checkpoints throughout the neighborhood Monday evening to solicit information.

"(This was) very tragic, very disturbing (and) 100 percent unnecessary the way these guys were shot and killed," Elks said. "I have never seen anything quite as tragic and heinous as this crime has been."

Investigators say they have been interviewing potential witnesses, including Sam's classmates.

Cash was scattered throughout the store and in the parking lot, and there were no signs of a struggle, according to Christy Wallace, a sheriff's office spokeswoman.

The funeral is set for Tuesday afternoon at a mosque in Greenville.

Investigators asked people to look closely at the clothing of the man wearing a baseball hat in the surveillance photos.

Anyone who can identify the men in the surveillance photos or who has other information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 252-758-7777 or text "PITTGV" and the tip to 274637.

141 Comments

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  • scarlett2 Apr 3, 5:18 p.m.

    Why do criminals shoot and kill someone in a robbery? Do they really think it is going to stop them from being caught and identified?
    Most small convenience store employees or owners are barely making ends meet, but they are hard workers. You want money? Get a job or start your own business! Don't end the life of someone who is decent, working hard, dedicated to supporting themselves, their family and their community. I know a guy who could not find a job; he got an old used weedeater and push mower to mow yards. Now he has over 120 houses to maintain and has a thriving business with employees to help him. He did not resort to crime and murder when he was down and out, he used his head and started a good business and feels good about himself.

  • scarlett2 Apr 3, 4:52 p.m.

    Criminal behavior and the lack of punishment has changed the way that I shop. I do not shop in little convenience stores or use an ATM at night. I have started buying alot of products online and have them shipped to my home. It saves me time and gas expense.

    If I were a convenience store owner, I would have security cameras posted everywhere, a trained attack dog behind the counter, a bullet proof window/locked door cage for the checkout register, and a bouncer with a sawed off shotgun behind a hidden two way mirror. If someone came into my store with a gun, they would get exactly the same in return.

  • scarlett2 Apr 3, 4:45 p.m.

    This state needs to become tough on crime, with stiffer punishment and prison sentences. I accompanied someone recently to felony court, first time I had ever been in a court room. It was a rude awakening to what criminals get for breaking the law.

    The judge there was an older man who lectured offenders on the error of their ways. Yet his judgement was the same for every offense...probation, suspended, a fine plus court costs. The whole courtroom was packed with low income, mostly unemployed people. All of their crimes were due to stealing or selling drugs or beating someone for their money for drugs. Most were repeat offenders.

    It became apparent to me that there was no justice, no punishment, no rehabilitation, it was all just basically a money machine for the attorneys and the state. Commit a crime, pay your fine here, there's the revolving door...Y'all come back now, y'hear?

  • rwbe Apr 3, 2:10 p.m.

    Miyata....I kinda ran out of space in the first one. The point was this....I am not making this a race issue but something factual not singling anyone out but it seems that way ....about 68.9% of the crime is committed by whites yes and they committed about 4200 murders during that time period.... 28% of the crime committed was by blacks but yet they committed about 4100 murders...... that was the point I was trying to make..... way less crime committed by blacks but the murder rate is so much higher.... what the figures do not give you is the crime associated with what led to the murder.....based on the figures and not being racist or prejudice the facts by the numbers are there that 68.9% of the crimes are committed by whites 28% of the crime is committed by blacks and the murders committed by both races is about the same .... the facts show you are more likely to be killed by an African American committing a crime than a white ... I have never seen the answer to the question ....why

  • eyeoneastsky Apr 3, 1:33 p.m.

    There is no god like Jehovah! He is not one and the same with the muslim god. All acts of murder are premeditated and hate crimes.

  • charmcclainlovesdogs2 Apr 3, 1:24 p.m.

    I see the hoodies

    This is not about hoodies. Its about innocent people in a store being cold bloodied murdered. Lets not drag the late Trayvon Martin into this story. This is an entirely different story. Just a matter of catching these murderers.

  • debfaulkben Apr 3, 1:11 p.m.

    This is scary and sad. I see the hoodies, has anyone asked Obama if it looks like his son? If you find out their names, can we tweet their addresses? and the addresses of their families? They seem to have no regard for human life at all, they are a threat to anyone they come in contact with.

  • miyata Apr 3, 1:09 p.m.

    @rwbe...I'm not sure if your statistics really helped here. All it looks like is that you showed 70% of crimes are commited by whites.

  • charmcclainlovesdogs2 Apr 3, 12:57 p.m.

    HORRIBLE! Praying that they catch these killers and give them all life in prison and no parole ever. This was a senseless act. Of course they could all get the death penalty. They did not have to kill these people. Some of these people had their hands up, so they could have took the money or whatever and left the people in the store alive. I do pray and hope that justice will soone be served to these killers.

    My condolences to the family, friends and customes. May God bring comfort and peace to all of you. All of you are in my prayers.

  • Taffy Apr 3, 12:26 p.m.

    Most likely whoever it was that went to rob the store did not intend for there to be any witnesses to the robbery.It could also be that the young student might have recognized the robbers. Whatever the reason for the murders, these people will kill again as they have no respect for human life.

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