Cold Case: Police keep searching for suspects in 2002 shooting

Cold Case: Police keep searching for suspects in 2002 shooting

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By MONA NAIR
6 News Reporter

MORRISTOWN (WATE) – Morristown police are still working to find two men behind a deadly armed robbery at a Mexican grocery store on Cumberland Street in 2002.

They say a salesman who just happened to be in the store at the time was shot and killed.

Ernesto Cortes was from Mexico. He had legally moved to the U.S. on a work visa. Detective Travis Stansell with the Morristown Police Department says Cortes was a traveling salesman for a North Carolina calendar company.

Det. Stansell says that on June 20, 2002, Cortes just happened to be making a sales call at a store called Tienda El Rodeo.

"There was a two toned brown pick-up truck that pulled up in front of the store," said Det. Stansell.

He says two men got out of the truck and one of the men had an American flag bandana covering his face.

"He was carrying a shotgun. Both males entered the store. One man ripped the phone from the wall socket and picked up the cash register," said Det. Stansell.

While one man headed for the register, police say the man with the gun headed right for Cortes who was the only male in the store at the time.

"The man with the shotgun put it right next to his (Cortes) neck and pulled the trigger. The shooter then fled the scene at that point," said Det. Stansell.

Police say Ernesto Cortes was killed at the scene. Police say he was just a salesman who picked the wrong time to stop by the store.

"They just came right in and pulled the trigger. There was no fighting, nothing like that. It was execution style and he was killed instantly," said Detective Stansell.

Cortes has a wife and family back in Mexico. Police say they have forensic evidence that could tie the suspect to the scene. The problem is they don't have any suspects in the case.

Police are searching for two men. The first suspect is between 25 and 30 years old, 6" tall, with short black and grey hair. He was the one said to be wearing an American flag bandana over his face.

The second suspect is also between 25 and 30 years old. He is 5'8" tall.

Anyone with information is asked to call Morristown Police at (423) 585-2710.

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