MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Three people were killed Tuesday night at a small grocery store in Montgomery, an outburst of violence that comes after a string of robberies targeting Latino-owned businesses in Alabama’s capital city.

The shooting at Tienda Los Hermanos, a grocery store on the south side of the city, occurred hours after the city’s mayor urged city council members to support a $6 million proposal for a community intervention program to address crime in Montgomery.

“People working their jobs in their community, trying to make it day-to-day, week-to-week should not be preyed upon. And that’s what we had last night,” Mayor Steven Reed said during a Wednesday news conference.

Reed said the city will use every available resource to find who committed the crime and those who have been “targeting Latino, Hispanic businesses all across this community.”

Police Maj. Saba Coleman said officers responded to a report of gunfire shortly before 9 p.m. Tuesday. Two people were dead at the scene. A third man was taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Acting Montgomery Police Chief John Hall identified the victims as George Elijah Jr., 50, Daniel Lopez, 20, and Romero Lopez, 43. Reed said two of the shooting victims were family members, and the third person was there “just to do a little shopping” and visit with store employees.

Hall said police are investigating if the shooting is connected to other crimes that targeted Latino-owned businesses.

Maribel Lopez, who said she was an owner of the business, told WSFA that her brother and nephew were among the dead.

“I can’t think about nothing right now,” she told the station. She said the store had been robbed or burglarized at least six times in the past.

“We need to speak up,” Lopez said. “Everybody needs to speak up, and they need to let the city know that we’re here and we need to take care of each other, and we need to get their attention so that they can start working on it.”

Bouquets of flowers and candles sat outside the grocery store as a memorial on Wednesday.

City Councilman Oronde Mitchell, who represents the area, said the shooting happened during a robbery at the store. Mitchell noted that crimes have targeted Hispanic-owned businesses in the area where patrons are thought to be more likely to pay in cash instead of using debit cards or other electronic transactions.

Mitchell said the city needs to do a better job at building trust with the community and to take other steps to address crime in the city.

During the press conference, a representative from a Spanish-language radio station asked city officials about concerns that police respond slowly, or not at all, to calls from those in the Latino community. Hall said the city is working to improve response times across the city. He said he will investigate if calls were ignored.



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