Crime

57-year-old killed at Food Lion as part of robbery spree, suspects still at large

A 57-year-old man was shot and killed in a Longs Food Lion parking lot on Wednesday, the Horry County Coroner’s office announced on Friday.

Gerard “Jerry” Celentano was in his car when two men approached at about 10:30 p.m. on Wednesday. As he tried to flee, the suspects shot and killed him, according to police. According to Deputy Coroner Michelle McFadden, Celentano was originally from New Jersey, but lived in Horry County for about a year-and-a-half.

A third suspect also confronted an employee in the Food Lion parking lot and demanded they open the store, according to Horry County police..

The suspects fled the scene in a gray Nissan Altima and committed three armed robberies in Loris and North Carolina, police say.

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On Friday, Horry County Police Capt. John Harrelson said it’s possible an attempted robbery at United Community Bank earlier in the week is related to Wednesday’s murder-and-armed-robbery spree. North Myrtle Beach police are also investigating whether an early August armed robbery is connected.

Horry County police say the suspects have possible ties to the Longs, Loris and Green Sea communities and remained at large on Friday. Police ask anyone with information to contact the department at (843) 915-TIPS.

When police arrived at the Longs Food Lion on S.C. Highway 9, they told employees to lock themselves inside the store for safety, according to a police report. Officers found a deceased man, identified as Celentano, inside a white Chevrolet Cavalier and secured the scene.

Officers were then called to the Carolina Inn off U.S. Highway 701 at about 11 p.m. for a reported robbery. An employee said two people entered, pointed a gun at him and demanded money. The suspects were described as two black men, wearing black shirts, blue pants and black shirts covering their faces except for their eyes, according to a police report. The suspects fled the hotel in the Nissan Altima.

A short time later, officers responded to a report of a strong-armed robbery on Fox Bay Road. That robbery happened about three miles from the Carolina Inn.

The victim’s truck broke down along the road and he said two black men pulled up next to him. The suspects brandished handguns and took the victim’s phone and wallet and fled the area. The victim described the vehicle as a dark color Dodge Dart, according to a police report.

Police also say the suspect committed a robbery at the Sun-Do convenience store in Chadbourn, North Carolina. An employee says he saw a gray sedan pull into the lot and then two black men rushed into the store with their guns drawn. Video surveillance showed two black men, wearing dark clothing with their faces covered. They forced customers to the ground at gunpoint and took the register as they fled the store.

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