Business owner shot during a robbery seeks justice

By Steve Crump - bio l email

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - According to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, crime is down in the Dilworth area.  Nevertheless, people who live in this area are concerned because a dangerous criminal is still walking the streets.  They're scared he could strike again.

Police have arrested Cedric Gaston dozens of times since 2005.

In 2007, investigators say Gaston robbed Dilworth Billiards and shot the owner, Eric Sprouse.

Gaston is now out on bond and is still walking Charlotte's streets.

Some residents in Dilworth fear Gaston may strike again.

Meanwhile, Sprouse is seeking justice and anxiously waiting for Gaston's next day in court.

"Over a year after the fact, these guys are still firing their public defenders and getting another month and manipulating the system," Sprouse said.

Sprouse feels he is a victim of a failed justice system.  He thinks Gaston should still be behind bars.

Many who run and support Sprouse's business plan to fight back.

"We're hoping to make an impact similar to Mothers Against Drunk Drivers," said Susan Hilger.

She was at the business on the night of the robbery and heard the shots.  Now, she and several others in Dilworth plan to start a court watch.

"We're hoping to raise awareness in the community [to] make an impact in the courtroom that were sitting watching whats going on," Hilger said.

This group would have been very disappointed at the Mecklenburg County courthouse on Wednesday.

Tony Deon Williams, one of the men accused in the Dilworth Billiards crime, had an arraignment hearing.  He was wounded by Sprouse and is now confined to wheel chair.  His arraignment was continued to a later date.

Sprouse was in court hoping to hear Williams' side of the story.

"To see what he has to say about the whole thing. To see if he denies being here. I just want to see the thing followed through," Sprouse said.