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Police hunt for killers of 3 men at rural North Carolina store

Admin / Pitt County Sheriff's Office

Images of the suspects captured on a surveillance camera at the convenience store where three employees were shot to death.

Law enforcers in a rural North Carolina community on Tuesday were engaged in an “all hands on deck” manhunt for three suspects who robbed an isolated convenience store and shot to death three young men working there, according to a report from NBC affiliate station WITN.

Victims at the Hustle Mart 3 on a sparsely populated county road in Farmville, N.C. were identified by the sheriff’s office as Nabil Nasser Saeed Al’mogannahi , 26, Gaber Alawi, 24 and Mokbel (Sam) Mohamed Almujanhi, 16.

One of the victims was found dead on the scene and the other two later died at a hospital, the local Daily Reflector newspaper reported Tuesday.

The three employees, including the store owner’s teenage son and two cousins, were closing the store when three men with handguns burst in and demanded money, the newspaper reported.

After taking an undisclosed amount of cash and a pack of cigarettes, the gunmen shot all three employees, even though they offered no resistance, officials quoted by WITN said. A customer who entered the store at about 10 p.m. found the victims and called 911, WITN reported.

Pitts County sheriff Neil Elks said his office has been “all hands on deck” since the shootings which took place, about 10 p.m. Sunday evening, WITN reported.

"We have been working this case as hard as we can since Sunday night," Elks told the station. "Our deputies have been canvassing the area, going door to door and following every lead that we have. These are dangerous men we are dealing with, and we are determined to catch them as fast as possible."

On Monday, the sheriff's office released photos of the suspects taken from the store's surveillance video, in an effort to generate tips. It also released a short clip of the video from the robbery, but not the very graphic portion that captured the murders, according to Christy Wallace, the sheriff's public information director.

The family and Crimestoppers have offered a $10,000 reward for tips leading to arrest and prosecution of the perpetrators.

The sheriff's department has received a steady stream of tips since the images and a short portion of the surveillance video were made public, said Wallace.

"It's keeping the detectives adrenalin up and keeping them so encouraged," she said Tuesday evening, adding that some had hardly slept since Sunday. "They are still at work right now."

Farmville has a population of about 4,500 located and is located about 71 miles east of Raleigh, N.C.

"The people had been at this store for years," Wallace said of the family. "They were well known and loved by the community."

Students from Farmville Central High School, where the youngest victim was a 10th-grade student, held a candlelight vigil Monday night outside the store for Almujanhi, who told friends to call him Sam because they had difficulty pronouncing his name.

A funeral for the three victims, who were originally from Yemen, was held Tuesday Al-Masjid Islamic Center and Mosque in Greenville, N.C., the Daily Reflector reported.

"This is very hard," a spokesman for the family, Tony Muhssen, said during a news conference in Farmville on Tuesday, the Reflector reported. "We lost three. The family just can't understand."

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