A $10,000 reward is now being offered for information leading to the arrest of the two men responsible for shooting and killing a clerk at the Sunhouse gas station in Longs the night of Jan. 2.
According to the Horry County Police Department, the robbery occurred at about 10 p.m. Jan. 2, about two hours after the Dollar General, about a block away on Highway 905, was robbed.
Horry County Deputy Coroner Michelle McSpadden said 40-year-old Bala Gopal Paruchuri died from multiple gunshots.
Another employee said he was in the bathroom and when he walked out he saw the other worker being robbed. The witness told police he saw multiple black males in the store but the number of individuals he said he saw was also redacted from the report.
He sad he heard one of the robbers say “give it up.”
During a press conference Thursday to announce the reward, Horry County Police Chief Saundra Rhodes said during the robbery the suspects fired shots into the bathroom but the employee was not hit.
HCPD Investigator Ryan Seipt said he believes the suspects walked into the store with more than robbery on their minds.
“It is my belief they went in with a violent nature. With violent thoughts, to the extreme that they were going to harm Bala,” he said.
During the press conference, Rhodes described Paruchuri as husband, father and “descent, hardworking member of our community.”
She said the murder cannot and will not go unanswered.
Rhodes the suspects “did not care he was a hardworking father” and did not care “he did not resist them in any way.”
She said the suspects did not care they were not only damaging a family but an entire community.
Rhodes said because the surviving employee was in the bathroom, he was unable to provide much useful information about the robbery and murder.
Seipt was asked during the press conference if Joseph D. Hemingway, 36 of Loris — the man who was arrested and charged with the Dollar General robbery — may have some connection with the Sunhouse incident.
“He was questioned. It is still an ongoing investigation. There may be a connection but right now we do not know at this time,” Seipt responded.
Rhodes said she is hoping the reward will help generate some leads in the case.
“We believe there are people within the community that can provide that information,” the chief said. “We believe someone, somewhere knows something.”
Rhodes said the Sunhouse Corp. is offering a $5,000 reward in the case. The Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Division of the Department of Justice is also offering an additional $5,000 reward.
The reward is for information leading to the arrest and prosecution of the men responsible.
To report information about the shooting, call the Horry County Police Department at 248-1520, the tip line at 915-TIPS or the ATF at 1-800-ATF-TIPS.