‘It scared me:’ Police disturbed by assault of a minor in Walmart parking lot

Police in North Carolina are investigating an assault at an area Walmart. (Source: WECT)
Published: Mar. 28, 2023 at 9:29 PM EDT
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SHALLOTTE, N.C. (WECT) - Police have released new details of what led to three men’s arrest after a teenager reported an assault and several others claimed the trio was scamming people outside of the Shallotte Walmart.

“It scared me,” said Lt. Cory McLamb with Shallotte Police Department. It was the only way he could describe finding out about the incident that unfolded last Friday.

Three men were collecting donations for Handicap International, a real charity police say the trio was not affiliated with. When they approached a teenage girl and her brother, the brother went back inside to get cash to give to the group. That’s when McLamb says things took a turn.

“One of the men forcefully grabs the female’s hand, pulls her in closer to him, puts his arm around her, grabs her in her chest area, sniffs her neck and sniffs her hair and also kisses her neck,” said McLamb.

When others in the parking lot noticed the teenager in distress, the men started to leave. The teenager reported the assault to a Walmart employee who police say flagged down an officer who was already responding to previous complaints about the alleged scam artists.

That’s when the men fled and officers chased them down Main Street toward Highway 17 until the driver pulled over by a restaurant.

“Officers got probable cause to search the vehicle,” said McLamb. “They found a large sum of cash in the vehicle along with some narcotic paraphernalia.”

Remus Duduveica, 36, Ulise Dumitru, 22, and Ion Levers Istronom, 26, were arrested for obtaining property under false pretenses. Duduveica is also charged with sexual battery. All three are at the detention center in Brunswick County.

Since the incident, McLamb says he’s heard several rumors about the potential of human trafficking being the men’s motive, something he says there’s no evidence of in this case due to the fact the suspects didn’t try to abduct the victim.

The suspects are being held on an immigration detainer as they are in the U.S. illegally from Romania. Shallotte Police say removal proceedings are underway and the department is working with the Department of Homeland Security as the investigation continues.