Friday, April 22, 2011
Mid Morning Shooting and Death On a Quiet South Charlotte Street
Photo Credit: Diedra Laird The Local Paper
Good Friday's weather was fittingly overcast with intermittent rain. The reduced amount of traffic and a post rush hour start to the holiday weekend ahead made a stop at Caribou Coffee an easy choice for Robert Barber and his wife Deborah. A choice that less that an hour later would become tragic.
Police say that Dr. Barber and his wife went to Caribou Coffee on Fairview Road Friday morning. Barber's wife then drove to work and Barber elected to walk to his home, on Dunwick Place, just off of Carmel Road and a little more than two and a half miles away.
Mullens Ford Road is a locally known short cut to the small Foxcroft East neighborhood shopping center. The road runs behind the immaculately groomed athletic fields of Charlotte Country Day School and ends at Carmel road.
Dt. Barber left the Foxcroft East shopping center and began his walk home carrying his newspaper and coffee. He made his way along the sidewalk of Simsbury Road and then a short while later turned left on to Mullens Ford. The lawns of well maintained 500 thousand dollar homes and a nearly continuous canopy of oak and maple trees would provide a pleasant shelter from the rain.
As he walked past a group of apartments, where the sidewalk ends he may have noticed a young black man shadowing him, but probably gave the young man little thought as the rain increased and he stepped carefully over puddles of rain in the curbside gutters and into the street.
By the time Dr. Barber reached the corner of Mullens Ford and Manor Mill Road the black man had caught up to him.
Around 10:30 Police officers respond to a call on Mullens Ford Road and a report of shots fired. What they found was the body of 64 year old Robert Latimer Barber face down on the pavement dead of an apparent gunshot wound.
They soon learned the man they found dead was the director of financial services at Carolinas HealthCare, that he had a doctorate in health care administration from the Medical University of South Carolina, and had retired from the U.S. Air Force as a colonel.
Dr. Barber's newspaper was still in his hand.
Police quickly wrapped the area in crime scene tape and officers talked in groups among themselves and interviewed neighbors in pairs. Deputy Police Chief Harold Medlock leaded against the street sign marking the corner of Mullens Ford and Manor Mill Road. A black trap lay across the body of a man who an hour ago was enjoying a simple cup of coffee with his wife of many years. District Attorney Andrew Murray made an appearance his navy blazer, blue jeans and tie a sharp contrast to the uniforms and more causally dressed neighbors.
A CMPD helicopter hovered overhead, as an officer with a German Shepard walked around the crime scene. At one point the police dog was turned off leash but found nothing.
The suspect a young black man was last seen running back up Mullens Ford Road towards Simsbury Road and the Foxcroft East Shopping Center.
Three hours later the rain slowed, and was replaced by a steady mist. The emergency flashers of WSOC TV's News Truck the only sign of a news worthy event. Gone were the police cruisers and crime scene tape. The fire department and paramedics were gone as well and neighbors had returned to their homes. All that was left to do was pass the hours til it was time for the 5 O'clock newscast and a tease that comes with being "WSOC" promising an answer to why the Mecklenburg County DA was on the scene that would be held until the 6PM repeat of the facts.
Cars speed along Carmel Road just a block away and life goes on.
Charlotte Police describe the suspect as a black male with a dark complexion and a short hair cut, between 20-30 years of age, 6'2" tall and skinny, and last seen wearing dark pants and a white and black plaid shirt or jacket.
More details from WBTV News here.