By Mitch Hotts, The Macomb Daily
The Clinton Township party store owner who was shot and killed in a late-night robbery was a cancer survivor, family members said today.
Basim “Basil” Sulaka, 51, of Sterling Heights, died after he was attacked Friday night by three masked gunmen at the Moon Lite Party Store on Harper Avenue north of 14 Mile Road.
“He had been in remission for cancer of the esophagus,” said his sister Vivian Sulaka. “This is so terrible — he had run the store for 18 years and everyone, all of his customers loved him.”
Sulaka was married to Linda Sulaka, and the father of two daughters.
A candelight vigil will be held at the store at 6 p.m. today.
According to Clinton Township police, the store owner was working behind the counter when the trio of gunmen burst in about 11 p.m. and demanded cash. Before fleeing with an undisclosed amount of money, one or more of the attackers shot Sulaka, who was pronounced dead at the scene.
Detective Capt. Richard
Maierle said investigators worked throughout the night reviewing surveillance
camera footage, interviewing people in the area and gathering evidence at the
The footage shows three young black males wearing dark clothing, caps and gloves. Their faces were concealed by ski masks.
“These perpetrators have taken this to a whole new level,” Maierle said. “It’s one thing to go in there and rob the store, but to brutally kill a hard-working store owner over money — any amount of money — is truly tragic. It shows the perpetrators have no regard for human life.”
A spokesman for the Midwest Independent Retailers Association, an association representing about 4,000 independent retailers in Michigan and Ohio, said violent crime continues to be an “ongoing tragedy” for gas station and convenience store operators.
“I don’t know of any other industry where small business owners are violently targeted,” Auday Arabo, AFDP president and CEO said in a statement.
“There have been more than 10 fatal shootings as such stores in the last five years in metro Detroit and it is deplorable. We need to invest more time, energy and resources in public safety. We need to throw the book at armed robbers. These small business owners are trying to make an honest living and they want to see their families at the end of the day.”
It was the first homicide in Clinton Township this year. The township had three homicides in 2013.
Detective Lt. Eric Reincke said the investigation is continuing.
Crime Stoppers will pay a cash reward for any information leading to an arrest and tipsters can remain anonymous. Anyone with information is asked to call Clinton Township police at 586-493-7802