Suspects arrested in killing store owner

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Memphis Police arrested and charged three suspects in the killing of owner Kent Smith and robbing Beverage Center on Winchester Road Sunday morning.

Ernest Butler was charged with first degree murder in perpetration of a felony and aggravated robbery.

Autry Butler and Reginald Mall were also charged with accessory after the fact and first degree murder.

Early Saturday morning family and friends stood by as Memphis homicide detectives pieced together what happened at the Beverage Center on Winchester Road.

Friends say, Saturday morning someone tried to rob the owner, Kent Smith.

During the armed robbery, someone shot and killed Smith.

“I’m just in shock, I want to cry,” said Freda Bennett, who works at a shop nearby.

The person took off in a gold Mercury Marquis, but not before Smith fired back and hit the man.

Police say the car was ditched and a short time later, a man fitting the suspect description, showed up with a gunshot wound at an Olive Branch fire station.

He is being treated and will be taken into custody.

“Mr. Kent he’s so sweet. It’s just unbelievable that anybody would want to do any harm to them,” said Bennett.

Smith was known to many as not the just the man who owned the store for thirty years.

Neighbors say he always looked out for neighboring families and often fed the homeless who hung out in the area.

“Everybody in this shop, we know each other it’s like a family,” said Bennett.

For Bennett, the loss of a family member is just too unreal to comprehend.

“I just don’t have any words,” said Bennett.



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