3 arrested in murder of Petersburg grandfather

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DINWIDDIE COUNTY, Va. -- Three people were arrested and charged in connection with the murder of Umar Abdus Salaam.

Salaam, 47, of Petersburg, was killed early Wednesday morning near the Shell gas station/Burger King along the 5600 block of Boydton Plank Road.

Thornell Sledge, 24, of Petersburg, Caleb Q. Smith, 25, of Newport News, and Jhanae Short, 18, of Petersburg, were charged with conspiracy to commit murder, according to the Dinwiddie Sheriff's Office. All three were booked at Meherrin River Regional Jail without bond.

Salaam's body was found just before 3 a.m. Wednesday when a driver saw it lying on Boydton Plank Road, near the intersection at Richie Avenue.

Crime Insider sources said investigators believed the grandfather was shot in the back then staggered to the road. Salaam was taken to the Southside Regional Medical Center, and pronounced dead once he arrived.

Umar Abdus Salaam

"His arms were always opened to bring people in and lift them up. So it’s kind of bad that it went down like this," friend and co-worker Timothy Couch said.

Couch is the manager at the Zoe’s Bubbles and Sudz Detailing right outside of the Shell Gas Station.

Couch said he did not know why Salaam was at the business so early in the morning, but he believed there was a female with him.

"It ain’t words for this. It’s hard for me to find words. I just hope it stops. It’s foolishness," Couch said.

Anyone with additional information was asked to call Dinwiddie County Sheriff’s Office at 804-469-4550 or Petersburg/Dinwiddie Crime Solvers at 804-861-1212.

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