Suspect in Mt. Pleasant store stabbing arrested, victim identified

Mount Pleasant police block the rear entrance to Belk in the Towne Centre after a construction worker was stabbed there Wednesday.

A man accused of fatally stabbing a coworker at a Mount Pleasant construction site Wednesday was arrested at a nearby beach the next afternoon.

Dennis Elvin Cervantes Pavon, 33, was still in the red-and-white-striped shirt that police said he was wearing during the attack inside Belk at the Mount Pleasant Towne Centre. He goes by Elvin Pavon.

Pavon is accused a fatally stabbing Raymond Muniz, 28, of Virginia. Police said Pavon and Muniz were working together renovating the Belk store and got into an argument.

Muniz died Wednesday night at East Cooper Regional Medical Center.

Isle of Palms residents and tourists saw police cars pull up to the Fifth Avenue beach access and handcuff Pavon around 4 p.m. Thursday, said Lynn Parker, who lives nearby.

"They were asking everyone if they saw anybody wearing a red-and-white-striped shirt," Parker said. "We saw them put him in the car. He still had that shirt."

A public works crew spotted Pavon on the beach and called Isle of Palms police, who turned him over to Mount Pleasant police, according to social media posts from both police departments.

Pavon's arrest on a murder charge ended a 22-hour search that started about 6 p.m. Wednesday at the shopping center at U.S. Highway 17 and the Isle of Palms connector. Police credited workers and shoppers with helping them develop Pavon as a suspect.

"There were a good many people in the store who were very helpful," he said.

After Muniz was stabbed in the chest with something from the construction site, he stumbled out of the Belk store, heavily bleeding and horrifying people there, according to information released Thursday.

"Oh, God," a woman said in a 911 call. "This man is dead. He fell."

It was the first homicide this year for the Mount Pleasant Police Department. The town reported one such death last year and two in 2012.

Pavon has a Honduras driver's license, from which investigators put together his physical description, police Inspector Chip Googe said.

It wasn't immediately known whether Pavon was in the country legally or whether a construction company or a subcontractor had hired him, Googe said.

Vincent Picard, a regional spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said he was looking into Pavon's immigration status.

An incident report released Thursday revealed little else about the stabbing, including a motive.

The police have not said exactly what kind of "sharp-edged object" was used.

"That's one piece of information that we're going to hold onto," Googe said. "It's possible that it could compromise the investigation."

An expansion effort next door to the Belk store includes a new parking garage, but Googe said the stabbing happened inside the store.

It wasn't known if the work site was closed off from areas where shoppers could browse freely, he said.

After the stabbing, people nearby saw a bloodied man lying in the grass behind the Belk store.

The Post and Courier acquired their 911 calls through a request under the S.C. Freedom of Information Act.

One man told a dispatcher that he knew little about what happened. He just saw a Hispanic man who needed help.

"Hurry up. He's about to die," the caller said. "There's a bunch of chaos."

As soon as she got word around 5:51 p.m., a police officer on foot patrol at the Towne Centre ran to the construction worker.

The man was bleeding and wasn't responding, the report stated.

Pfc. Michelle Johnson and a worker put pressure on his wound, and Johnson told paramedics to hurry up.

After the rescuers showed up, the officer met with Muniz's father, who also was there, and "attempted to keep him calm," she reported.

Police put out notices that Pavon was wearing a red-and-white-striped shirt, blue jeans and boots and ran southward on Hungry Neck Boulevard toward Venning Road. Officers set up a perimeter and brought in dogs but could not find him that night.

Pavon's last address wasn't known.

The police looked into some places that he might have frequented, Googe said, but they were not sure exactly where he "laid his head at night."

Dave Munday contributed to this story. Reach Andrew Knapp at 937-5414 or