Police on Wednesday identified the two men who died in connection with a car fire earlier this week behind a warehouse in Hamlin as Alexander Allen Cease Burrow and Bruce Kane, both former athletes at Brockport High School.
Monroe County Sheriff Todd Baxter said both men had sustained gunshot wounds and the case is being investigated as a double homicide. However, he said, the Monroe County Medical Examiner's Office has not officially determined their cause of death.
A tip line was activated on Tuesday, which can be reached at (585) 753-4175. Anyone who may have seen or heard anything between 11 p.m. Sunday and 1:30 a.m. Monday in the area of King Street is encouraged to call.
"We're looking for anything about activity on Lake Road, around King Road, videos you might have from your house, anything you saw, anytime your dog barked, we'll take it all," said Baxter.
Additionally, police are seeking the driver of a dark-colored pickup who may have made a U-turn on Lake Road and was seen in the vicinity of the Crosby's convenience store there between those hours.
"We do not believe the driver is involved in the crime itself, but may have pertinent information we can use in this investigation," said Baxter.
Burrow, 20, of Clarkson, and Kane, 18, of Sweden were found dead Monday morning in a burned-out red Ford Focus sedan.
It appeared Kane was driving and Burrow was a passenger, said Baxter. The vehicle was registered to Kane's father.
During their time at Brockport, Burrow and Kane swam together on Brockport’s 200-yard freestyle relay that set a Section V Class B record at the Section V meet in 2016. Burrow was a 2016 graduate and Kane a 2018 grad.
Burrow’s brother, Shane Cease of Sweden, said Burrow was preparing to attend the University of Buffalo for a second year this fall.
"He was the light of everybody's world," said Cease. "The kid was willing to give you his shirt off his back."
Kane was a two-time All-Greater Rochester selection as a swimmer, making first team as a sophomore and junior. He was the Monroe County Division 3 Swimmer of the Year as a junior, a season when he won three Section V titles and had five state qualifying times.
He broke three pool records as a member of a relay team as a sophomore season and was the Section V Class B champion in the 50-yard freestyle.
A vigil for the two men, hosted by friends from the area, is scheduled for 7:15 p.m. Sunday by the Main Street bridge in Brockport. Burrow's family plans to hold a celebration of life in his honor at Ontario Beach Park, which will be open to the public, said Shane Cease. The date has yet to be determined.
The burned out car was found behind 87 King St., a storage building on a dead-end road featuring several small businesses and warehouses that runs off Lake Road, or Route 19, in the hamlet of Hamlin. The incident tipped off a major investigation by the Monroe County Sheriff's Office.
The fire occurred sometime between Saturday afternoon and early Monday morning. It was not reported until late Monday morning when the owner of the property happened upon the scene, said Monroe County Sheriff's Chief Deputy Michael Fowler on Monday.
Fowler said the sheriff's office has no knowledge of criminal activity in the area and said the deaths appear for now to be "an isolated incident."
On Wednesday, Baxter reiterated that police believe the slayings were targeted, but declined to provide additional details about the gunshot wounds or circumstances of the fire. He said investigators are pursuing numerous leads and he did not want to jeopardize their work.
"Our goal here is justice," he said. "If we give away information too soon, we could taint an arrest."
Baxter said his agency is working the case alongside the Monroe County District Attorney's Office, the Medical Examiner and the Monroe County Fire Bureau.
"We will pursue all leads and will continue with that pursuit until we bring all involved in this henious crime to justice," he said.
Community 'is devastated' at loss
When Courtney DiGennaro heard of the car fire, her first instinct was to message her friend Alex and ask if he was ok. That message was never returned.
DiGennaro, 25, of Batavia, used to talk to Burrow on the phone every day before losing touch for a few years. When she had a miscarriage earlier this year, Burrow reached out via Facebook, even though the two hadn’t talked for a while.
“I’m so, so sorry to hear about your loss,” Burrow said in the message, dated May 31. “... If you need anything let me know ... I know you’re a great mom in your heart Courtney.”
DiGennaro met Burrow through her cousins, who lived in the Hamlin area. She remembers a zany trip to Walmart when Burrow put on a bra and rode around on a motorized scooter, just for fun.
But for DiGennaro, Burrow’s message about the miscarriage solidified his good character.
“It just made me think of him more that he’s a good kid, because who just does that?” she said.
She heard about the car fire on the news Monday morning, and she was “dumbfounded” to hear Burrow's name come up.
“From what I can tell, everybody is devastated,” she said of the area community. “He had a lot of friends. They all cared for and loved him.”
He was a supportive friend that hung tough when his friends were facing challenges, said one of DiGennaro's cousins Tia Carlson, 23, of Sweden.
“He was always there ... he always wanted people to be happy,” said Carlson.