• 73°

Warrant: Gunman admitted shooting

SALISBURY — Christopher Lee Watson admitted to investigators that he shot and killed store owner Hecham Abualeinan during a robbery Monday, according to a search warrant obtained by the Post.

Watson also told investigators at the Salisbury Police Department that Kevin Canzator and Maurice Robinson drove him to the Z&H Mart on Mooresville Road in a white 1993 Chevrolet Caprice.

Canzator and Robinson initially told officers they were customers inside the store before the gunman entered but later acknowledged their part in the fatal crime, according to the warrant returned Friday.

“At the end of the interviews, both Robinson and Canzator admitted they had been a part of a plan to rob the store and the suspect that shot the store clerk was Chris Watson,” the warrant said.

Surveillance footage showed two men buy candy and leave the store. Eleven seconds later, the gunman entered.

The man, masked and wearing a hood that hid his face, pointed a handgun at Abualeinan.

The 59-year-old store owner walked around the counter and confronted the armed man, investigators said in the warrant, which then describes what happened next.

“The suspect backed toward the store’s front door still pointing the gun at Mr. Abualeinan. The suspect then grips the handgun with both hands and appears to aim the weapon more carefully and then Mr. Abualeinan falls face first to the floor and blood is seen on the floor around Mr. Abualeinan’s head.”

The gunman walked around Abualeinan and emptied the register.

Abualeinan’s family lived with him behind the store. Family members told detectives they heard a yell and a loud noise. They found the Syrian immigrant on the floor.

After the robbery, the men drove to a home off Grace Church Road and paid the homeowner in marijuana to let them burn the clothes they were wearing, according to the warrant.

Watson told deputies the Caprice broke down after the murder, the document said. Investigators found it at Advance Auto Parts on Jake Alexander Boulevard.

Deputies executed the search warrant on the vehicle and towed it away.

During a first appearance in court on Thursday, Watson asked District Court Judge Beth Dixon if she would pass along a message to Abualeinan’s family.

“Will you just tell his family I’m sorry,” a choked up Watson said.

Canzator appeared stunned during Dixon’s instructions that the first-degree murder charge could warrant a death penalty sentence. Robinson, a convicted felon, told Dixon he was blind and couldn’t see her through the closed-circuit television each murder suspect appeared on in court.

Robinson did not seem affected by the hearing, leaning back in his chair with his arms crossed.

More charges could be coming for the group as early as Monday, investigators said.

Sultan Qasem, the owner of Neighborhood Market, a store on West Horah Street told the Post that officers confirmed to him they would charge at least two of the suspects with robbing his store twice in the last month.

Qasem said a gunman pointed a pistol at his head last Wednesday and he believes it was the same man who did it in November.

One of the murder suspects, Qasem said, pretended to be a customer in his store during a robbery. He recognized him after the trio’s arrest.


Comments closed.


Rowan County sees death No. 302 from COVID-19; Health Department to host final mass vaccine clinic

Ask Us

Ask Us: What happened to work on South Fulton Street home?


Blotter: Woman says she was shot in hand on Lincolnton Road


Rowan Sheriff’s Office charges Salisbury man with operating illegal gambling business


Blotter: Rockwell man arrested on felony drug, breaking and entering charges


Rep. Amber Baker discusses legislative session during Rowan Democrats breakfast meeting


Thousands of locals, out-of-towners gather for a groovy time at annual Hippie Fest


N.C. Zoo ready for expansion if lawmakers OK funding


RSS budgeting for tens of millions in federal COVID-19 relief funding

East Spencer

‘Back in full swing’ for the spring: East Spencer community gathers for food, fun and fellowship at Spring Fest


Rowan native Lingle among those honored with NC Military Veterans Hall of Fame induction


Former pro baseball player, Tar Heel standout Russ Adams finds new career with Trident Insured


Profoundly gifted: Salisbury boy finishing high school, associates degree at 12


Cheerwine Festival will stick to Main Street, stay away from new park in September


Celebrating Rowan County’s early cabinetmakers


Service Above Self announces youth challenge winners


Economic Development Commission creates search tool for people seeking Rowan County jobs


Amy-Lynn Albertson: Arts and Ag Farm Tour set for June 5

High School

High school baseball: Mustangs top Falcons on strength of hurlers


Biz Roundup: Application process now open for Rowan Chamber’s 29th Leadership Rowan class


Keith Mitchell leads McIlroy, Woodland by 2 at Quail Hollow


States scale back vaccine orders as interest in shots wanes


Major US pipeline halts operations after ransomware attack


NC budget dance slowed as GOP leaders differ on bottom line