Arrest in Young Father's Murder in ‘Quiet and Peaceful Rural Area' of Chester County

Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan said Sam Algarin's murder was "the first in 30 or 40 years" in that part of the county.

What to Know

  • The suspect allegedly may have picked Sam Algarin at random after getting kicked out of his mother's house nearby.
  • Hakeem Smith has been convicted of aggravated assault and illegal firearm possession.
  • The Chester County District Attorney said officers responding to the initial domestic dispute followed proper procedure.

A man kicked out of his mother's house last week has been charged with the killing of a young father in rural Chester County, just a short time after the initial dispute.

Hakeem Smith, 30, allegedly shot Sam Algarin, 31, once in the chest, left Algarin for dead on the side of a road in West Fallowfield Township, then stole the victim's car — all within hours of getting kicked out of his mother's house, authorities said.

The chance encounter between the two young men apparently occurred near a Starbucks in Oxford Borough. The coffee shop is a short distance from where Smith's mother lives. It is also where Algarin left his sports utility vehicle earlier in the evening before riding with his mother and two children to his kids' jiu jitsu class. 

After class and some pizza slices with his kids, Algarin's mother dropped him back off about 9:30 p.m. to pick up his SUV. That's when police believe Algarin and Smith ran into each other.

"It was the wrong place at the wrong time," Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan said. "It's very sad."

"It's the first murder out there in 30 or 40 years," Hogan added.

Investigators tied Smith to the vehicle through surveillance video at a nearby gas station that allegedly shows the suspect getting gas. The SUV was found Sunday in Westtown, and a palm print connecting Smith to the vehicle was found, the Chester County district attorney's office said.

Hakeem Smith
Hakeem Smith.

Smith was arrested Tuesday when police saw him walking along a street in West Chester Borough.

Smith has been previously convicted of aggravated assault and illegal possession of a firearm. Hogan's office described the incident between the suspect and his mother as a "domestic dispute ... resulting in the police being called and the defendant being removed from the residence."

"The defendant left the residence on foot that evening, carrying bags of his belongings," officials said in announcing his arrest.

Hogan said officers who responded to the initial dispute handled the situation properly.

"My understanding is there was a verbal altercation between the defendant and his mother. It's his mother's house. She ordered him to leave, which is her right," Hogan said. "Police were called. He agreed voluntarily to leave at that point. Police stayed to make sure he left."

He added that the officers' priority in responding to domestic disputes to separate the sides, "hopefully move the folks along."

"There weren't any red flags to say this guy's a danger, beyond the normal fact he's on parole," Hogan said.

Algarin, of Quarryville, worked his entire adult life — since he was 18 — at Jeff D'Ambrosio Chevrolet in Oxford Township, according to Matt Combs, a friend and service director at the dealership.

He was a great young man and well-liked by his co-workers, Combs said Saturday.

"It's a complete and utter shock," Combs said. "There has been no reason given behind it what so ever."

His co-workers offered a $4,500 reward for information resulting in an arrest, Combs told NBC10 over the weekend. 

It is unclear if any tips aided police in leading to Smith's arrest.

West Fallowfield police Chief Charles "Smoke" Wilmont thanked the county for help in making an arrest.

"West Fallowfield is a quiet and peaceful rural area, and we seldom see violence like this," Wilmont said. "However, the entire team came together to investigate and arrest the defendant. My thoughts and prayers go out to Sam Algarin's family."

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