Friends and family will join six sisters Saturday when they lay their only brother to rest in the Cistern Hill Baptist Church cemetery in Como.
Dexter Birge, 28, a 1995 graduate of North Panola High School, was shot dead Monday night during a carjacking in East Shelby County outside Memphis. (See on Page 3).
"You know crime is out there and you try to be aware but you just don’t expect it to happen," said Birge’s sister Shunnon Richardson.
Her brother, she said, "was a very hard worker. He started about 4:30 every morning and worked six or seven days a week."
The victim, along with his parents, Robert and Dorothy Birge, own B’s Quick Stop on Highway 51 in Como.
Birge was the nephew of Panola County Supervisor James Birge.
The victim had worked in the family stores since he was 15, doing "everything from cooking to running the cash register," his sister said.
No arrests had been made in the case as of Thursday morning, but Richardson said sheriff’s deputies "know who they are looking for."
Det. Sgt. Ray Sides told The Panolian Thursday that officers have identified "three suspects" and are looking for them.
"Hopefully, we’ll crack this open pretty soon," he said.
Birge’s GMC Denali sport utility vehicle was found behind a house in Fayette County, Tenn., after it was tracked using the OnStar system with which it was equipped, according to Steve Shular, public information officer for the sheriff’s office. OnStar uses satellite global positioning system technology.
Sides said the accuracy of OnStar took detectives "right to it … within 40 yards."
The SUV was partially disassembled and detectives also found another vehicle – a black Mercury Marquis – that was taken in a carjacking in southeast Memphis on Sunday. No one was hurt in that incident.
The shooting happened about 6:45 p.m. outside Dollar General Store at 7110 East Shelby Drive near Riverdale, Shular said.
Witnesses were quoted as saying three men approached Birge as he got into his gray SUV.
Investigators say Birge was shot several times. He then stumbled back into the store, collapsed near a cash register and died shortly after an ambulance arrived.
Sides said witnesses told detectives that Birge refused to turn his vehicle over to the men and "fought" to keep from doing so.
Detectives say two of the suspects ran from the scene and the other man drove away in Birge’s vehicle.
Family members learned of the tragedy from Birge’s girlfriend with whom he lived in Memphis, Richardson said.
"He had called her from the (Dollar General Store) and she didn’t answer because she was in the shower," his sister said.
When Birge’s girlfriend saw that he had called, she dialed his cell phone and someone at the store picked it up, answered and told her what had happened, Richardson said.
Remembering her brother as "loving," Richardson said Birge was "very close" to his family.
Birge was known for his wit and for his "easy-going" manner that made him a likeable person, she said.
When he wasn’t working or spending time with family, Richardson said Birge liked to go to car and motorcycle races.
"He didn’t race, but he loved to watch races." she said.
"He was such a loving brother," she said, "and we loved him and we loved spoiling him.
"He was younger than all but one of his sisters but he was the backbone of our family. Sometimes we felt like he was our big brother."