CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Ronald Hoover, a man who served time for murder, was killed while apparently trying to stop an argument.
In his 37 years, Hoover had experienced lows and highs. At the time of his death, he was enjoying the best of life - a published author of three books.
"To know him was to love him, you know," said childhood friend Unika Jackson. "He was a good guy. He showed love to everybody. A humble person."
Charlotte Mecklenburg Police say Hoover and two other men were shot on Fairwood Avenue early Thursday morning - just four hours into the New Year. Two of the men showed up at area hospitals. Hoover died on scene.
"A real shock to the community, and a real loss for the community," Jackson said. "He had big plans to do things for the kids and it's really sad."
Jackson said she spoke with Hoover a few hours before his death. She said the two wished each other a Happy New Year, and "he was mad because I didn't get to come out to his spot."
He was shot and killed at his "spot."
According to Jackson, Hoover recently bought the location. She said it was "just a place for family and friends to come and chill out, have a drink, watch the game. Just a lounge spot."
A woman who works at one of the businesses in the building told WBTV that Hoover leased the space. Officials with the state Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission said the location doesn't appear to have a permit.
WBTV has learned there was a group of people inside the lounge - the place, friends say, Hoover called Stage One.
An argument started. It's unclear if there was a bouncer at the door, or, if Hoover knew everyone who was there. According to friends, Hoover went to calm the situation - but the people who were arguing drew guns. A shoot-out started and Hoover was hit.
Investigators have not released any information about what led to the fatal shooting.
By the time Hoover opened the lounge, he was coming out of the low periods of his life.
In a posting on his face book page back in November, Hoover wrote "we have to do better people. And if it's anyone who feels my story can help or feels my voice or message can help just extend the invitation."
He wrote about the moment in 1994 - "I was just seventeen years young. A hot headed teenager without any guidance running around with a gun. However, I was not looking for any trouble but at the same time a lot of people were."
Hoover said a man tried to rob him of "his drugs and money." The two shot at each other. "With the winds of death swarming around me I aimed my gun for the first time and fired my second shot. A split second later a man lay dead... it all may have took 2 minutes to happen and it cost me 20 years of freedom."
Court records show that in May 1995 Hoover entered a guilty plea to second degree murder, and was sent to prison. Earlier in 2014, he was released from state prison after serving nearly 20 years.
Jackson, his friend since Middle School, didn't want to talk about the 20-year-old criminal case. But, she said while Hoover was in prison his life changed.
"When he was in jail, he started writing books and being positive and wanting to do better things, wanting to get out and do better and see people do better," she said. "He was a really good guy."
Hoover evidently had a way with words, and found out that the pen was mightier than anything else he had picked up.
While he was in prison, he wrote two books - 'Queen City', and 'Certified Diva.' He would become a published author - selling at Walmart, and on
. Hoover was released from prison in 2014. His third book, 'Essence of the Game', was recently published. His website,
, says his books are a "New Way of Storytelling."
Jackson said "we talked about giving away book bags. He wanted to do things for the community. He wanted to do things for the kids. He wanted to work with the kids."
His plans ended January 1, 2015.
New Year's Day started with a lot of noise in a South Charlotte neighborhood off South Tryon Street.
"I was wondering what was going on. I didn't see anything last night. I heard a lot of shooting going on last night but that always happens over here a lot of shooting. I know the difference between a firecracker and gun shot," Timothy Bell said.
Timothey Bell says he didn't know anyone died until the morning.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg police received an assault with a deadly weapon call around 4 a.m. to the 200 block of Fairwood Avenue near S. Tryon Street. When police arrived, they found Hoover with an apparent gunshot wound. Medic pronounced him dead on scene.
A short time later, the Presbyterian Hospital ER called officers and said that a man arrived at the hospital with a gunshot wound. Police say the man was involved in the same shooting.
Mercy Hospital also called police and said a different man checked into their hospital with a gunshot wound. He was also related to the restaurant shooting. Both men suffered minor injuries.
"It is sad. Because I have seen that young fellow before in the car. I've seen the car come by quite a few times never bothered anybody it shocked me when I came past and I found it was that guy that owned that car that got killed," said Timothy Bell pointing to the white Crown Victory parked outside the building on Fairwood.
"Normally, you got the barbershop then you got the restaurant beside it the other place I didn't even think there was a club there. I really didn't even know they were open yet. I find out they just open that place. It was closed for the longest," Bell said.
Jackson said Hoover "was really excited about his place. He took pictures when they first opened. He wanted to everybody to come out and see it and have fun with him. He was just excited."
Police haven't said if they have any persons of interest in the fatal shooting.
"It's hard to make anything out of it. I can't think of anybody who would want to hurt him," Jackson said. "It was real hurtful to know he was just lying there. It's just awful."
WBTV spotted surveillance cameras on buildings around the area.
The owner of one of the businesses said police requested video from his cameras - he doesn't know what, if anything related to the shooting, was recorded.
Four hours into the new year and CMPD was investigating a homicide. This was just hours after Chief Rodney Monroe talked about the historic low rate of 42 homicides in 2014.
"Over 77 percent of our homicides this year we closed 30 of the 42 homicides, 23 of those cases were closed within 48 hours. That's mind boggling in this profession that you can get the necessary information that you need inside of 48 hours to make an arrest," Monroe said.
Chief Monroe says they need the community involvement to close cases.
"I think as a community we've made some progress. We can't ever and think that we've won this. One life is too many. Until we can reach a point where there's no homicides in this city we still have work to do," Monroe said.
Police have not released the names of the other two victims or arrested anyone yet in this case.
If you know anything about the deadly shooting from New Year's morning you are asked to call police. Call detectives at 704-432-TIPS and ask for the homicide unit.