The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC

November 7, 2013

Store owner charged with kidnapping, robbery


TARBORO — Tarboro police arrested a tobacco store owner and charged him with two felonies Oct. 29. This wasn't the first time police have charged the owner with criminally related activity.

According to Det. Lt. Keith Hale, a customer went into the 252 Tobacco Store on Western Boulevard earlier in the day and bought some tobacco-related merchandise. When the customer, who is over the age of 18, went back to the store later that night, the store owner, 23-year-old Mahmoud Mohammad Sarsour, accused the customer of passing counterfeit money earlier that day during his purchase.

Hale said officers investigating the incident said that Sarsour forced the customer into the back of the store and made the customer empty out his pockets. After his pockets were emptied, the owner then searched the customer to make sure he wasn't lying.

According to the report, Sarsour then told the customer to contact his parents to come get him. That's when Sarsour brandished a handgun and told the teen, "This is just in case things don't go right."

When the parents arrived at the store, they contacted police.

Hale said the following day, police executed a search warrant on the business because Sarsour didn't give the customer all of his belongings.

Hale said during the search, police didn't find any counterfeit money that Sarsour had accused the teen of passing.

Police charged Sarsour, of 903 Springforest Road, Greenville, with first-degree kidnapping and common law robbery.

During the search, Alcohol Law Enforcement (ALE) officers also found synthetic samples of urine, which are used to help people pass drug tests, who are currently using drugs.

ALE officials charged Sarsour with unlawful sell/market urine with the intent to defraud.

He was placed in the Edgecombe County Detention Center under a $50,000 secured bond. According to detention officials Tuesday, Sarsour bonded out of jail a short time later.

Also during the search police found that store clerk, 23-year-old Adrian Jerell Staton, of 1200 Elm St., Tarboro, was in possession of a concealed firearm.

He was charged with carrying a concealed weapon and issued a citation and released.

"We want to maintain a good working relationship with out local businesses and protect them," Chief Damon Williams said. "But if illegal activities are happening inside or around the businesses we have to take action accordingly."

Sarsour is due in Edgecombe County District Court Nov. 13.

According to Sgt. Al Braxton, they also had another incident in February with Sarsour. He was found to be in possession of counterfeit merchandise, marijuana, drug paraphernalia and a stolen firearm. He was charged with each of those crimes and also with maintaing a place to store controlled substances.

Sarsour also has charges pending against him in Pitt County for possession of marijuana up to one-half ounce, possession of drug paraphernalia and carrying a concealed weapon.