State and federal law enforcement investigating triple murder in Montgomery following string of crimes against Hispanics in the city

On Wednesday, Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed and Acting Police Chief John Hall spoke about a triple homicide that occurred Tuesday night in the city on Troy Highway.

Around 9 p.m. Tuesday, Montgomery police responded to calls that a shooting had occurred at the Tienda Los Hermanos grocery store on Troy Highway. Police reported that two of the victims, George Elijah Jr., 50, and Daniel Lopez, 20, were pronounced dead at the scene, while another victim, Romero Lopez, 43, was later pronounced dead at the hospital.

The murders come at a time when city residents are increasingly voicing criticism of city leadership and rising crime.

See: Montgomery Mayor Reed asks City Council to allocate $6 million for violence intervention and again blames the rise in gun crime on carrying firearms without a permit

Police said the killings were the result of a robbery, which has been common in the city's Hispanic community in recent months.

Reed expressed his condolences to the families of the victims and promised to arrest the perpetrators at all costs.

“Last night was a horrific situation,” Reed said. “It was tragic. It's something that cannot be excused and should not be. People who are working in their community, trying to make ends meet from day to day, week to week, should not be exploited, should not be targeted. Two family members, as well as a person who was just doing a little shopping and talking to the people working there, were caught in the crossfire. That's inexcusable in my opinion when people try to target a group that is trying to better their lives and the lives of their families by people who are coming to steal and take their money.

“This is something we will not accept. This is something we will not tolerate. We will make sure that what happened last night on Troy Highway is not repeated. We will make sure that those responsible are held accountable and brought to justice.”

Reed stated that the FBI was involved in the investigation. He also claimed that the crimes were racially motivated because Hispanic-owned businesses may have more cash on hand and are less likely to contact police.

“Some may not have the same access to a bank or financial institution to make sure they don't have too much cash on them,” Reed said. “So thieves and robbers think they're an easy target and that they might get a little bit more or even a lot more there than they might from someone who might have a fixed bank account or one at a credit union or other financial institution.”

“I think for those reasons and because there is a belief that they may not be as willing to cooperate with our police, they could get away, but there is no way these people are going to get away.”

Hall drew on Reed's comments and asked community members to come forward with information, stressing that illegal immigrants should not worry about having to speak to authorities, despite their immigration status.

Hall said law enforcement is investigating Tuesday night's killings to determine if they are connected to the series of crimes against Hispanics in the area. Hall said the state would seek the most stringent charges against any suspects, which he said would be federal charges.

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