Family of man murdered in Food Lion lot sues chain, claims Longs location lacked security

The family of a man murdered in a Food Lion parking lot has sued the chain claiming it failed to provide a safe environment for customers and employees.

Gerald Celentano, 57, was shot and killed outside the Longs Food Lion while waiting to pick up his wife from work in August 2018. Celentano was confronted by one armed man in the parking lot and shot multiple times, according to the suit. The suspects then embarked on a crime spree that terrorized the community including armed robberies in South Carolina and North Carolina.

Three people have been arrested in connection to the spree and all their cases remain pending.

Celentano’s daughter, Alexarae Rizzo, spoke during a recent bond hearing for some of the suspects and said nothing could prepare her for the call telling her that her dad was murdered.

“I would like to express that he was the most amazing, honest and hardworking man I ever met,” Rizzo said.

According to the lawsuit filed this week in Horry County, Food Lion had a responsibility to provide security and protection for customers. The Longs Food Lion did not have video surveillance on its property.

Months before the murder, a number of violent crimes happened in the area, the suit claims without naming specific incidents. The filing adds that Food Lion knew its property did not provide a safe atmosphere for patrons and posed a risk.

The suit alleges wrongful death, negligence and other claims. It asks for an unspecified amount of money.

Food Lion officials provided a statement in regards to the lawsuit, “We again extend our condolences to the Celentano family regarding last year’s senseless act of violence, however unfortunately we cannot comment on pending legal matters.”

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Alex Lang is the True Crime reporter for The Sun News covering the legal system and how crime impacts local residents. He says letting residents know if they are safe is a vital role of a newspaper. Alex has covered crime in Detroit, Iowa, New York City, West Virginia and now Horry County.