3 arrested, 2 charged with murder in fatal shooting of Johnston County store clerk


RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Three people have been arrested and charged in connection with the fatal shooting of a Johnston County convenience store clerk that occurred back in October, the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office announced.UPDATE: Third man charged with murder in shooting death of Johnston County store clerk

Darius Dontae McCalston, 28, of Raleigh, Omari Alexander Smith, 23, of Raleigh, and Grecia Montes, 20, were arrested and charged in connection with the robbery and shooting death of 29-year-old Esmail Al-Shami on Oct. 27.

A second employee, Ricky Lynch, 51, was also shot during the robbery. Lynch suffered serious, but non-life threatening injuries and survived.

The shooting occurred at the Shop-N-Go convenience store off N.C. Highway 39 a little after 11 p.m. on Oct. 27, authorities said.

The Johnston County Sheriff’s Office said two masked robbers could be seen on surveillance video robbing the clerk. Al-Shami was shot during the course of that robbery.

McCalston and Smith are both charged with first-degree murder, robbery with a dangerous weapon, assault with a deadly weapon intent to kill inflicting serious injury, and felony conspiracy.

Montes was charged with accessory after the fact.

McCalston and Smith are being held in the Wake County Detention Center under no bond.

Montes is in custody of the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office. No bond information was provided.

The double shooting hit the close-knit community hard.

“It’s very sad. Like I said, very friendly people, welcomed when I buy the gas and everything. I just hate for something like [this], especially a fatality.  It’s hard to believe something like this would happen right here,” said longtime customer Tom Price shortly after the shooting.

Rick Bailey said his brother was shot during an armed robbery at the same convenience store in 2010. Bailey’s brother survived the shooting.

“They took one of my friends, and hurt another one,” Bailey said. “Just a really good guy, he’d do anything for you. Real pleasant young man.”

Esmail Al-Shami, who went by AB, lived across the street from the convenience store with his wife, Lucia Al-Shami, and his 6-year-old son.

Darius McCalston, Grecia Montes, Omari Alexander (L-R; Raleigh-Wake CCBI, Johnston County Sheriff’s Office)

Lucia Al-Shami came by CBS North Carolina’s studios in November to talk about her loss.

“I can’t believe it, I feel like he’s still gonna come home, I wait and wait,” she said. “I just don’t know where to begin.”

She had to calm their 6-year-old son before going to the store in hopes of calming herself.

“I don’t know if I already knew, I already felt it but that’s when I started to think the worst,” she said.

“They didn’t just take his life, they took part of me,” Al-Shami said. “They took a big part of me.”

She now wears her husband’s wedding ring for comfort.

It’s been almost two months since the shooting and Shop-N-Go employees expressed relief that the perpetrators have been caught.

“It was a scary feeling knowing they were still out there and could they return,” said employee Anna Herzog. “They’re no longer on the streets. They’re where they’re supposed to be.”

Another employee, Dwayne Holder, said, “I feel better that somebody got arrested so it will be a weight off of everybody’s back.”

Store manager Harley Brewer agreed with Holder, but said the arrests don’t change the facts.

“All of us are relieved up here, but it’s still not going to bring [AB] back.”

Brewer said Montes had been seen in the store before.

“It really ate me up on the inside…how grimy people can be these days,” she said.

Danny Strickland, a longtime customer, said AB’s death has left a hole in the community.

“He’s really missed here in the community,” he said.PREVIOUS STORIESCommunity mourns Johnston County store clerk killed during robberyJohnston County community gathers to mourn slain clerkWife of slain Johnston County clerk still waits for him$5,000 reward offered in deadly shooting of Johnston County clerk

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