DENMARK, S.C. (WJBF) — A fatal armed robbery in Denmark, South Carolina leaves two store employees dead, Thursday, November 14.
Bamberg County Coroner Billy Duncan told NewsChannel 6’s Shawn Cabbagestalk that the two men were killed at Po Boys on Heritage Highway at around 10:40 p.m. Family members tell Shawn that Kiran and Chirag Patel were the victims involved. Both men are originally from India.
“It seems to be an issue with these guns. These guns are out of control,” Abby Billinghurst said when asked about gun violence in the area.
The scene, pretty much wrapped up at the convenience store on Friday afternoon. The only remnants of an incident were crime scene tape hanging from the door and a sign that said: “We’re Closed.” Two cars of what could be of the employees who were shot and killed remained in the parking lot.
“Once you pull those triggers on those guns, you can’t put those bullets back! We need help with these young people,” Billinghurst said.
Several residents came to the store around lunchtime not knowing what happened — shocked to see it closed.
“There are so many young people at the age of 13 that has guns and they just are, they just going wild with them.”
Billinghurst knows first hand what guns can do.”My daughter left New York and brought her son here and she wanted a better life for him,” she recalled. “A life where she didn’t have to worry about him going outside and getting shot and he walked right dead into it and got shot so,” she added.
Billinghurst’s grandson Tyrek was shot about a little more than a mile away from Po Boys, outside of the Magnolia Club. He’s had a long road to recovery ever since that night in 2018.
“He got shot in his groin area where they had to amputate his leg because he bled out a couple of times while he was still recovering. It’s a year later but we’re still coming along,” she shared.
No suspects have been arrested in that case.
Meanwhile, the self-proclaimed grandmother of the community says that she’s hurt over the reasoning for why some carry pistols.
“My protection, that’s what they are telling me, it’s for my protection. Just in case. I got shot before and this time I gotta be prepared if someone comes up to me,” she recalls.
Following this recent incident, a renewed call for putting feet to the pavement to start a neighborhood watch.
“It almost seems like in small rural communities, like this when tragedy does happen residents are left to fend for themselves,” Community Activist Deanna Miller-Berry said. “We are even calling on the help of other law enforcement agencies who may be able to reach out to us to give us insight and guidance on how to combat this issue and starting effective neighborhood watches in the communities where each borough there is a neighborhood watch. We have to do what we have to do to protect our children, protect our communities, and especially protect our business owners,” she added.
“Denmark doesn’t have any place for these kids or anything for these kids to do. There’s no Boys and Girls Club, nothing. So these kids had just, just left doing absolutely nothing,” Billinghurst said.
She says that she has even expressed her concerns over the incident to local officials but it seemed to have fallen on deaf ears. “[City officials] said that they were going to get back to me and I haven’t heard from anyone yet and that even goes as far as back with my grandson. That’s a year ago and haven’t heard anything back yet,” she shared.
Some community members, according to her, pretend the crime issues aren’t happening. “Crime is done and everyone just turns their head. They won’t respond to it. If you say something about it, they don’t want to be bothered with it. No one will go forward and tell them what’s going on.”
But, she’s worried for others as well as her other grandsons. “Constantly worrying about those young men as they go outside the door or even do is pray that they come back in the same way they went out the door,” she shared.
As for the incident at Po Boys, the Bamberg County Coroner has not released the identities of the victims yet. The bodies are being taken to Newberry, South Carolina for autopsies.
State police are investigating at the request of the Denmark Police Department.
Of course, if you have any information, contact your local authorities.