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

Around 9 p.m. Tuesday, Montgomery police responded to calls of shooting at the Tienda Los Hermanos grocery store on the 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, Romero Lopez, 43, was pronounced dead later at the hospital.

The killings come as residents in the city have become increasingly more vocal in their criticisms of city leadership and the rising crime.

See: Montgomery Mayor Reed asks city council to fund $6 million violence intervention, again blames permitless carry for rise in gun crime

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

Reed offered his condolences to the families of the victims and promised to apprehend the perpetrators no matter the cost.

"Last night was a terrible situation," Reed said. "It was tragic. It's something that cannot be excused, nor should it be. People working their jobs in their community, trying to make it day-to-day, week-to-week should not be preyed upon, should not be targeted. Two family members, as well as a person there just doing a little shopping and talking to those that work there, were caught in the crossfire. That's something that's, in my mind, inexcusable for people to try to target a group who are trying to work to improve their lives and that of their family by people who are coming to steal and take their money.

"It's something that we will not accept. It's something that we will not tolerate. We will make sure that what took place last night on Troy Highway does not happen again. We will make sure that those who are behind this are held accountable and are brough to justice."

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

"Some may not have the same level of financial access to a bank or financial institution to make sure they aren't carrying an inordinate amount of currency on them," Reed said. "So, the thieves, the robber believe that it's an easy hit and that you may get a little bit more there, or actually a lot more there, than you might with someone who may have an established bank account or one with a credit union or some type of other financial institution."

"I think because of those things, and because there's a belief that they may not be as willing to cooperate with our police department that they may get away, but these people will not get away at all."

Piggybacking on Reed's comments, Hall asked members of the community to come forward with information, emphasizing that illegal immigrants need not worry about speaking to law enforcement despite their immigration status.

Hall said law enforcement was looking into Tuesday night's murders to determine if they were linked with the rash of crimes against Hispanics in the area. According to Hall, the state would be seeking the most stringent charges against any suspects, which he said would be federal charges.

To connect with the author of this story or to comment, email craig.monger@1819news.com.

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