Widow, son make public appeal for leads in shop owner's murder

The widow and son of a DeKalb County store owner who was fatally shot killed as he closed his shop made a heartbreaking plea on Tuesday. They are asking the public to come forward with leads to bring justice to Tesfaye Birru's killers.

"My husband loved this community. Making customers happy is what made him happy. This should never have happened to him," said widow Worke Serete.

Birru, 57, was killed the night of Feb. 19 in front of the Tic Toc convenience store on Evans Mill Road. The crime was caught on camera and several cameras at Birru's store captured images of three young men preparing to ambush him.

"Any kind of tips or information could make a difference. I understand this is a case where people may be afraid to come forward, but that's why you can leave an anonymous tip," said Detective J.B. Williams. We just need to hear from the public so we can arrest these men and get his family the justice they deserve," he told reporters Tuesday.

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Birru, who was beloved in his neighborhood, came to the United States from Ethiopia. He attended an agricultural college there and earned a master’s degree. But when he arrived in America, he went into the convenience store business. He worked in the industry for 15 years and purchased Tic Toc on Evans Mill near Interstate 20 just five years ago. He was known for giving away food and allowing customers to pay for items when they could afford to do so--an act that made quite an impression on his 14-year-old son Manuel Chernet.

"No matter what his customers were going through, they would always leave the store with a smile. He made sure of it. That's why I can't understand why anybody could do something like this to him," Chernet told reporters.

The store owner's widow hopes the release of surveillance video will compel someone to come forward and tell police what they know.

"Just report it. Please. Just report it to the police. We just want to know who did this because they should pay for it. My husband didn’t deserve this," said Mrs. Serete.