Police have arrested two men in connection with the murder of a 76-year-old French bulldog breeder who was gunned down in the parking lot of a Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant in February. Lonnie Ray, 76, went to the restaurant parking lot at 1073 Sumter Highway on Feb. 6 with a friend to meet up with who he believed was a buyer for one of his $2,500 French bulldog puppies, USA Today reported.
Lee County Sheriff Daniel Simon said Ray was well-known in the industry as “probably the best breeder in South Carolina.”
But before the transaction even took place, someone opened fire on Ray and his friend, firing at least eight rounds and hitting Ray twice, Sheriff Simon told USA Today.
The man who was with Ray was able to take cover behind a truck and was not wounded.
Sheriff Simon said the suspects then stole the puppy from Ray and sped away in an older model sedan, USA Today reported.
At least three other individuals were inside the suspect vehicle at the time of the deadly shooting, investigators said.
Ray was rushed to a hospital in Hartsville, where he succumbed to his wounds, USA Today reported.
“He was a cancer survivor… he’s been in the Vietnam War,” Sheriff Simon said. “He survived all that and he was killed just going to sell a dog.”
Lee County Sheriff’s Office (LCSO) deputies and the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) fugitive unit tracked down the two men who allegedly killed Ray and arrested them on March 14, the LCSO said in a press release on Monday.
They have been identified as 41-year-old Michael Dinkins and 32-year-old Byron Miller.
Dinkins and Miller were booked into the Sumter County Detention Center on charges of murder, armed robbery and attempted murder.
They are being held without bond.
The LCSO said additional arrests are expected.
The French bulldog puppy that was stolen during the armed robbery is still missing.
Ray leaves behind his wife, three children, six grandchildren and five great-grandchildren, as well as his sisters and many friends, according to his obituary.