Local News

Rocky Mount neighbors rally to end violence

Posted March 12, 2011 11:39 p.m. EST
Updated March 14, 2011 8:54 p.m. EDT

— Cornell Pitts gathered friends and neighbors Saturday in Rocky Mount for a rally against violent crime. Pitts wants to start a movement for peace in his community.

His actions were spurred by the shooing death of convenience store owner Rafiq Salim Soufan, known as "Sammy," who was found lying in the doorway of his store, at 1100 Old Wilson Road, early Tuesday.

"It doesn't matter the race or color or creed or anything like that, violence just needs to stop in Rocky Mount," Pitts said.

Soufan was shot to death as he closed up for the night. Without him, Sammy's Food Mart, a neighborhood fixture, is likely closed for good.

Police are still searching for the people responsible for Soufan's death. Authorities are looking for two or three people who are possibly driving a four-door, older model, gray Toyota Camry or black or gray Chevrolet Caprice with three hubcaps and one black steel rim. 

Rocky Mount Police Capt. Laura Fahnestock said robbery has not been ruled out as a possible motive.

Lamia Nimer knows what Soufan's widow is going through. Three years ago, her husband was gunned down in front of his store just like Sammy.

"You can't imagine, honey," she said. "It's so hard. You can't explain."

Nimer, Pitts and others hope the vigil is the start of a more peaceful Rocky Mount community. Organizers urged people to report suspicious activity to police.