Police swamped with tips after Farmville shooting reward increased
Posted April 3, 2012 3:35 p.m. EDT
Updated April 3, 2012 6:56 p.m. EDT
Farmville, N.C. — The Pitt County Sheriff’s Office has been inundated with tips concerning a Farmville convenience store shooting that left three dead, authorities said Tuesday.
Christy Wallace, a spokeswoman for the sheriff's office, the victims' family added a $5,000 reward to the original Crime Stoppers reward of $5,000, and the phones have been ringing on the sheriff's tip line.
"We have had lots of people call in saying 'We recognize this article of clothing' or 'We recognize the possibility of this frame of this person,'" she said.
Investigators have been conducting interviews to find potential witnesses, including the classmates of one of the victims, and set up checkpoints on Monday night to gather information.
Three armed men entered the Hustle Mart in Farmville on Sunday night and shot Mokbel Mohamed "Sam" Almujanhi, 16, the owner's son, as he mopped the floor. The men also shot the owner's nephew, Nabil Nasser Saeed Al'mogannahi, 26, and cousin, Gaber Alawi, 24, during an armed robbery.
Tony Muhssen, a cousin of the victims, spoke out on Tuesday about the shooting.
"A father lost his only son. (Sam was) a great person. Everybody loved him," Muhssen said. "This didn't have to happen."
The three victims are from Yemen, and customers said they were hardworking and kind people. Almujanhi was a 10th grader at Farmville Central High School. Classmates put a tribute to him on the store window.
Hundreds of mourners attended a candlelight vigil Monday night. Pastor Mickey Fields, who during the week was Almujahni's bus driver, shared scripture readings with the gatherers.
"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."
The shootings have shocked the small community. Preston Hartley, a customer at the convenience store, said he doesn't understand how something like this could happen.
"We are all scared," Hartley said. "This has hurt the whole town."
"(This was) very tragic, very disturbing (and) 100 percent unnecessary the way these guys were shot and killed," Pitt County Sheriff Neil Elks said. "I have never seen anything quite as tragic and heinous as this crime has been."
Anyone who can help identify the robbers or provide other information in the case is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 252-758-7777 or text "PITTGV" and the tip to 274637.