Sumter Police seek public’s help after string of armed robberies turns deadly
COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - The Sumter Police Department is seeking help from the public after two men were shot and killed during an attempted armed robbery last Thursday.
Diego Alonzo Teletor, 25, and Gregorio Zarate Chun, 46, were killed after investigators say two or three men, described by witnesses as African American wearing all black clothing, approached the two men as they were sitting outside of a relative’s house on Bowman Drive.
Shortly after approaching Teletor and Chun, witnesses described seeing the suspects brandish guns and shoot at the two men, before fleeing on foot in the direction Dogwood Street.
“You’re in a neighborhood setting, enjoying the evening in your backyard, your own property and for someone to come on your property--r two to three people based on what we know now--and commit such a heinous crime is an absolute tragedy not just for the families but the community at large,” said Sumter Police Chief Russel Roark.
Roark said much of the neighborhood where the two men were killed consists of people from Guatemala and said both men were also of Guatemalan descent.
Jairo Paguada is a pastor in the community and said one of the victims was a parishioner of his church. A native Spanish speaker, Paguada said in addition to providing comfort for the families of the victims, he has helped spread the word in the community about the investigation.
“People need a safe place to be able to come forward and report any information or evidence they may have related to what happened,” Paguada said through a translator. “The Police Department has done that. If they call 803-305-7469, it’s a special hotline set up for Spanish speakers where they can safely call.”
Chief Roark said the tragedy is bringing the local Guatemalan community and law enforcement together. While he admits there is some anxiety and nervousness about coming forward within that community, he hopes to mend that gap with the help of people like Paguada.
“There’s a language barrier oftentimes, a distrust oftentimes, there’s a concern with the Hispanic community with deportation and other issues related to migration to our country. But we’re only after the people who are responsible for this crime,” he said.
Police do not believe the shootings are random but said it could be a group(s) of individuals targeting Hispanic males in the Sumter area. Last Monday, police said a group of people robbed a Hispanic male. Two days later, on Wednesday, another armed robbery took place. 24 hours later, Teletor and Chun were killed in what police are calling an attempted armed robbery.
The police department is offering a reward of up to $5,000 for information leading to the arrest(s) of those responsible. If you have information about the homicides, call CrimeStoppers at !-888-CRIME-SC.
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