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Family Dollar Murder Suspect Lavere Bryant Was A Former Employee, Charged In Dearborn, Mich. Slayings

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Lavere Bryant was charged with several felonies, including first-degree murder, in the slayings of Joe Orlando and Brenna Machus at a Dearborn, Mich. Family Dollar on July 15. | City of Dearborn

DEARBORN, Mich. -- A former employee of a discount store in Michigan was arraigned Wednesday in the fatal shootings of two other workers.

Lavere Bryant declared his innocence following an afternoon hearing in Dearborn District Court. He is accused of killing two employees of a Dearborn Family Dollar store.

"I did not murder" the victims, Bryant said as he left the courtroom.

The 34-year-old Dearborn man is charged with two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of felony murder as well as armed robbery, unlawful imprisonment, felon In possession of a firearm and felony firearm charges.

Police and prosecutors say he's responsible for the deaths last week of Brenna Machus and Joseph Orlando, both 20. Machus disappeared on July 15, the same night Orlando was fatally shot in the store. Her body later was discovered in a wooded area less than 2 miles away.

Bryant, who was ordered held without bond, requested a court-appointed attorney. A preliminary examination is scheduled for July 31.

Family Dollar spokeswoman Bryn Winburn told the Detroit Free Press that Bryant was terminated from the company in the spring. She said she couldn't comment on other details surrounding his employment but that the company was working closely with police on the case.

"We are saddened by the loss of Joseph and Brenna and our hearts go out to their families and friends," Winburn said. "We have a strong, tight-knit team in Detroit, and our focus is on taking care of them right now as we all work to understand what happened."

Authorities have not disclosed a motive in the killings.

The Family Dollar is in a busy retail area on the west side of Dearborn, sandwiched between a Middle Eastern restaurant and a hardware store.

The store's surveillance video captured images of a suspect who waved as he walked into the store the night of July 15. Dearborn Police Chief Ronald Haddad credited the community's response with Bryant's arrest.

"We got a slew of good tips that led to this arrest," Haddad said.CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article misspelled the name of the city of Dearborn, Mich. in the headline.

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