Teen arrested in murder of man shot in neighborhood near SouthPark

Published: Apr. 22, 2011 at 2:32 PM EDT|Updated: May. 24, 2011 at 11:47 AM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn
Chauncey Sterling (Photo courtesy of the York County Sheriff's Office)
Chauncey Sterling (Photo courtesy of the York County Sheriff's Office)
Robert L. Barber (Photo courtesy of Hankins & Whittington Funeral Service)
Robert L. Barber (Photo courtesy of Hankins & Whittington Funeral Service)
Barber was shot and killed while walking on Mullens Ford Road in south Charlotte Friday morning.
Barber was shot and killed while walking on Mullens Ford Road in south Charlotte Friday morning.
Police blocked off the street where Barber was found dead.
Police blocked off the street where Barber was found dead.

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - The Rock Hill teen charged in connection with the robbery and murder of a prominent hospital executive who was killed while walking in a south Charlotte neighborhood Friday morning is scheduled to appear in court on Tuesday.

According to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, Chauncey Sterling, 18, was arrested late Sunday night in Rock Hill and is now being held in the Mecklenburg County jail without bond.

Police say Sterling, who his mother says is the father of two baby girls, robbed and murdered 64-year-old Robert Latimer Barber.

Barber was walking home from a coffee shop in south Charlotte Friday morning when he was shot and killed in the 4500 block of Mullens Ford Road located between Fairview and Carmel Roads. Read related story.

CMPD Chief Rodney Monroe released new details Monday morning pertaining to the case involving, Sterling, who attended Northwestern High School in Rock Hill and had dropped out.

Monroe said the shooting appeared to be a "random robbery" and that Barber was an "innocent" victim. He said detectives have recovered a weapon which they believe was used during the fatal shooting.

"We do believe there was a brief scuffle between the shooter and Mr. Barber," Monroe said.

The Chief said it does not appear the shooting was gang-related, or part of any gang-related initiation.

"Sterling had relatives in the area where the attempted robbery and shooting took place," Monroe said.

Monday afternoon Sterling's mother, who lived with him in an apartment complex in Rock Hill, told WBTV her son had been staying with his sister in Charlotte when the murder took place.

She said the murder didn't sound like something her son was capable of doing. She described him as a good guy and that she has never seen him carrying a gun or a knife.

The mother also said he's the father of two young girls.

She also said that he was supposed to graduate this year from Northwestern High School, where he'd once played football. She said Sterling had dropped out of school and was pursuing a GED through online courses.

Students at Northwestern say Sterling attended the school until earlier this school year when he was expelled.

Several students who have known him for years say he could be a very nice guy. One person told us, however, that Sterling had started hanging out with a bad crowd and had started doing crazy things.

Monday morning, the CMPD Chief thanked the community for calling in numerous tips to Crime Stoppers about the shooting.

Monroe said information came into the police department late on Saturday in which detectives were able to identify Sterling as the suspect in Barber's murder.

Sterling was taken into custody on Sunday at 10:05 p.m. at 285 Fargo Street in Rock Hill. The Rock Hill Police Department and the York County Sheriff's Office assisted in making the arrest.

WBTV went to the apartment Monday afternoon, but no one answered the door.

According to the Department of Justice website, Sterling does not appear to have any prior arrests in North Carolina. However, in April, he was charged with sexual battery, criminal domestic violence and trespassing in York County, SC.

According to the Associated Press, Barber was a retired U.S. Air Force Reserve colonel who had worked in health care administration for 20 years.

Carolinas Healthcare System president Michael C. Tarwater said Barber worked for the company many years.

"Bob was the consummate professional and dedicated teammate, and he was my colleague and my friend," Tarwater said in a statement released Friday night. "He served Carolinas HealthCare System over many years in a number of key roles and responsibilities, and in each he served with distinction.  Bob also proudly served our country and for that we are also grateful."

Barber also taught at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte and at Pfeiffer University.

Barber's family will receive friends on Tuesday from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Hankins & Whittington Funeral Service located at 1111 East Boulevard in Charlotte. His funeral will be held on Wednesday, April 27, at 2 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church.

A source told WBTV that Barber and his wife went to Caribou Coffee on Fairview Road Friday morning. Barber's wife then drove to work and Barber walked home.

David Herbert lives in the neighborhood where the shooting occurred. He said he heard two gunshots, went outside, and found the victim shot.

"When I was able to look out, I saw a body laying in the driveway," Herbert said.

Barber was lying near the street and was still carrying his newspaper.

Police cordoned off the area with crime tape while cops used a K-9 unit and a helicopter to aid in the search for the suspect.

A woman who lives nearby told WBTV she received a reverse 911 call from police around 11 a.m. warning of a "serious assault" on Mullens Ford Road with a description of the suspect. A short time later, she received a second call from police.

A worker at Caribou Coffee told WBT Radio that Barber was a regular customer at the coffee shop.

"It will be interesting if in the next couple of weeks as many people walk up here as [they] use to," Kat Kleinstuber said. "It's really upsetting."

Some residents said the incident has made them pay more attention to their surroundings while others say they feel just as safe.

If you have any information which may be helpful to police with the investigation, call 704-432-TIPS and speak directly with Homicide Detective Ladd. You can also call Crime Stoppers at 704-334-1600.

Copyright 2011 WBTV. All rights reserved.