Sumter, SC (WLTX) - Sumter police have arrested two teens in connection with the shooting death of a Sumter business owner.
Sumter Police Chief Russell Roark says they've arrested 19-year-old Larenzo Hagood and 17-year-old Sincere Dawkins, charging them with murder and kidnapping, among other charges.
The day after Thanksgiving, police say the two suspects walked into a Save-Mart store and killed the owner, 57-year-old Vijaykumar Patel. The two were there to rob the store.
Patel had owned the Save-Mart for about seven years.
"He was a beloved business owner," said Roark.
The chief credits that community love with helping them break the case. He said the coverage in the media of his daughter pleading for help caused people to send in tips to Crimestoppers.
"All of this was brought about by the community that cares for their own and the tireless effort of our officers," Roark said.
Roark said he can't give out too much more information about the case at this time, because he doesn't want to jeopardize the case.
Community members in Sumter say they feel they can breathe a little easier now.
"Manning Avenue here and all the stores up and down this strip, we're just happy to see some justice done because we all work here for our living," said Albert Kelly, owner of Al's Music Hut. "We feel a lot safer again."
"We have some closure now," said Kenny Black, owner of Kenny's Car Wash and friend of Patel.
Black says he hopes this sends a message to potential criminals.
"We want to nip it in the bud before anyone decides to do anything negative," Black said, "the community as one works together with law enforcement."
Although the arrests cannot bring back the husband, father, and loved community member that was lost, Black says he hopes it will bring the family some peace.
"I grieve with them, the Sumter community grieves with them too," Black said.
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