Local News

One suspect in doughnut shop robbery, slaying surrenders

Posted July 27, 2009 4:25 p.m. EDT
Updated August 7, 2009 9:04 p.m. EDT

— The Cumberland County Sheriff's Office issued warrants Monday evening for three men in the shooting death of a doughnut shop worker early Sunday.

Patrick King, 18, turned himself in Tuesday morning, authorities said. Deputies continued to search for Angel Bonilla, 18, and Luis Marquez-Lopez, 19.

All three have been charged with first-degree murder and armed robbery.

Three masked men robbed Donut Connection, 104 S. Bragg Blvd., at about 4 a.m. Sunday and killed Rashed Rai, 66, who worked in the store, authorities said.

Rai's sister, who was working with him, and a customer also were in the store at the time of the robbery. The three robbers escaped with an undetermined amount of cash, authorities said.

Customer Sheila Vannoy laid flowers outside Donut Connection, which was closed Monday, to honor Rai and his sister, both immigrants from India, who Vannoy said often gave away coffee and doughnuts.

"They're just very giving people. They give from the heart," Vannoy said. "For people like this to come to the United States and become citizens and to work as hard as they do and to be killed over a few dollars, it just doesn't make sense."

The three robbers wore blue bandannas over their faces. One also wore a dark blue Carolina Panthers hooded sweatshirt, while a second wore a striped shirt. The shotgun they used to hold up the store was wrapped in masking tape.

A few days earlier, a nearby Pizza Hut was robbed. Investigators said the robber in that case also wore a blue bandanna, but it's unclear if the two are connected.

Vannoy said she fears Spring Lake has become vulnerable to crime following a recent corruption case that left the town's police department powerless to investigate cases or arrest culprits.

"It's like open house, come help yourself" for criminals, she said.

A Cumberland County judge stripped the Spring Lake Police Department of its law enforcement authority in May after two senior officers were indicted on a variety of charges, including kidnapping, assault and embezzlement.

The sheriff's office has patrolled Spring Lake since then, but the amount of protection dropped at the beginning of July when town officials refused to pay for extra deputies. Coverage went from four deputies each shift who exclusively patrolled the town to two deputies each shift who patrolled Spring Lake as well as unincorporated portions of Cumberland County.

"Just the presence of law enforcement is sometimes a deterrent to people who are out looking for an opportunity to commit crime,” Tanna said, noting that officers dedicated to patrolling Spring Lake could have responded faster to the robbery call.

The Spring Lake Board of Aldermen was expected to discuss a new contract with the sheriff's office at its meeting Monday night. The proposed contract would put three deputies in town around the clock.

Anyone with information about the Donut Connection robbery and shooting is asked to call the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office at 910-323-1500 or its anonymous TIPSLINE at 910-484-TIPS.