A well-known South Rocky Mount business owner reportedly was gunned down while closing up his store early Tuesday morning, leading neighbors to build a make-shift memorial at the store, Sammy’s Food Mart.
Police responded shortly before 1 a.m. to a shooting at the store at 1100 Old Wilson Road. Officers reportedly found Rafiq “Sammy” Salim Soufan, 47, dead in the doorway of the store.
Neighbors said they heard that Soufan had shot one of the suspects, but police Capt. Laura Fahnestock said that was not the case.
“We have no information that can support that,” she said. “We have nobody in custody.”
Police canvassed the area Tuesday.
“Our officers have been passing out fliers to obtain information on this case,” she said. “We will follow up on all leads.”
She said investigators are looking for two unknown suspects driving an older model gray Toyota Camry with three hubcaps and one black steel rim. Fahnestock said investigators do not have any video surveillance of the store to release.
Neighbor Tim White said he was helping Soufan in the store Monday night.
“Most of the time I stay over there until he locks the door, but I left about 10:30 last night,” he said. “I didn’t see nothing suspicious or nothing.”
White said he was shocked when he heard about the murder — Rocky Mount’s second for 2011.
“Everybody was cool with him,” he said. “I don’t know why somebody would do this.”
He speculated it had to have been someone from outside the close-knit neighborhood surrounding the store.
“It’s got to be somebody outside,” he said. “It had to. It just had to.”
More than 100 people gathered across the street after reportedly finding out from early morning phone calls or messages on facebook.com.
“There are a lot of people out here,” White said. “They are from all over South Rocky Mount, Little Raleigh, all over. He was a good man.”
Charles Davis played music sung by Aretha Franklin from his stereo as he remembered his friend.
“I’ve known him for 35 years, and he was the best guy,” Davis said. “They didn’t have to do Sammy like that. He’d have given you the shirt off his back.”
Davis said Soufan’s generosity made him integral to the community.
“He was a fixture of the community ... a pillar,” he said. “He never turned nobody down if they was short (on money).”
A woman who would identify herself only as “Da Twin” said the outpouring of support from neighbors at the scene exemplified how the community felt about Soufan — who reportedly leaves behind a wife and four children.
“He was the man. You’ve got to be to get all these people out here,” she said. “Somebody knows who did this. They better catch them before the street catch them."
Soufan’s body was taken to the medical examiner’s office in Greenville for an autopsy. Anyone with information is asked to contact Crime Stoppers at 977-1111 or email@example.com.