LORIS, SC (WMBF) – A manager at the Hills Food Store in Loris was shot and killed during an armed robbery Sunday morning, officials confirmed.
Horry County Coroner Robert Edge confirmed that victim is 49-year-old Malcolm Ray Norris Jr., also known as "Mack," from Tabor City, North Carolina. A gunshot wound was the cause of death, Edge said.
The armed robbery suspect left the scene with an undetermined amount of money, said Captain Dale Buchanan with Horry County Police criminal investigations.
According to warrants, the suspect entered the Hills Food Store on Broad Street in Loris at about 6:15 a.m.Sunday after breaking the glass of a sliding glass door with a brick. Once inside, he brandished a handgun at four employees, and demanded that Norris and another employee open the safe.
Norris told the suspect he could not open the safe, and the suspect shot him in the leg, the warrant states. The suspect again demanded that Norris open the safe. Norris told the suspect again that he could not open the safe. The suspect then shot Norris in the face, and he fell to the ground.
The other employee grabbed the keys and went to open the safe. As she was opening the safe, Norris got up and lunged at the suspect, who then shot Norris five more times, mortally wounding him. The suspect then grabbed money from the safe and fled the store.
Horry County Police investigated the incident, and later 22-year-old Dion Julius Brown as the suspect, according to the warrant. The store's Loss Prevention Officer knew the suspect was Brown because he was a former employee at the store, and the officer knew his appearance, build, mannerisms, and the way he walked.
Detectives tracked Brown's cell phone to the proximity of the Hills Food Store during the time of the homicide and robbery, the warrant states.
HCPD worked with deputies in Columbus County, North Carolina to locate Brown. On Tuesday morning, Brown was killed in a gunfight with law enforcement in Tabor City, allegedly after starting a deadly arson fire nearby, according to North Carolina District Attorney Jon David.
The people of Loris are in disbelief that a killing like this could happen in such a small town where everyone knows each other by name.
"I just jumped up and kept saying over and over ... it can't be him. It was just so shocking, very upsetting," Betty Parnell explained.
The people of Loris described Mack as a hardworking and outgoing family-man that went above and beyond for everyone.
They said he was a beloved husband and father of two and when it came to working at Hills Grocery - Norris wasn't your typical manager. He would do it all. He had been working there since he was in high school.
Linda Parnell shops at Hills.
"It's really scary. I am scared all the time even in the daylight coming here it's very scary to come here by myself most of the time," she said.
Edward Graham has known Mack for years. Graham believed whoever killed Norris, planned the robbery but couldn't have known Mack.
"[Norris] being the kind of guy that he was...[The suspect] is somebody that couldn't have known him personally ... because your conscious doesn't let you do stuff like that," he said.
People say they came to Hills just to see Mack. Some only shopped on the days he was working, which meant a ten-minute trip turned into an hour-long visit because they enjoyed his company.
Hills re-opened Monday. Hills workers were very upset but could not comment. They said Mack will be missed by this entire community.