Wilmington Police arrested two men, accused of gunning down a store clerk during a robbery attempt Tuesday night.
18-year-old Melvin Wright and 22-year-old Omar Mitchell now face charges, including first degree murder, in connection with the slaying of 22-year-old Esam Al-Haidari at the Concord Food Market. Al-Haidari was shot in the chest with a high-caliber weapon. Police caught the suspects thanks to help from someone in the neighborhood who led detectives to physical evidence related to the incident. Investigators found multiple weapons and ammunition while making the arrests at Wright’s and Mitchell’s homes.
Both Wright and Mitchell have had run-ins with Wilmington Police recently. Wright was arrested on Oct. 27 for a residential burglary on the north side of Wilmington, but he was released on bail. Mitchell was arrested on July 12 for possession with intent to deliver, resisting arrest, and possession of a non-narcotic drug within 300 feet of a church.
The fact that both suspects had been arrested recently and were released is a point of frustration for Wilmington Police Chief Michael Szczerba. “The use of guns by these individuals to take a life is terrible enough, but one of them had been arrested recently and was out on bail. One has to ask the question whether this tragedy would have occurred if this individual was still behind bars.”
It’s an issue Szczerba raised during an interview with WHYY earlier this year. “We have to take a better look at what is being done or not being done prior to the arrest, and what’s being done or not being done after the arrest,” Szcerba said. “When they’re violating the law on our streets with firearms, we should get the maximum penalty for them to keep them out of the community.” He says many of the suspects arrested in the city are already known by police. “It’s the constant circle of people we deal with, whether they’re today the victim, tomorrow they may be the suspect, and they’ll be yesterday’s witness. They’re the constant folks that we have to deal with.”