Gastonia murder suspects have first court appearances, community hurt from loss

Gastonia murder suspects have first court appearances, community hurt from loss

Two men will continue to sit behind bars in Gaston County as both are facing murder charges for shootings that took place in Gastonia over the weekend. Gastonia police say 21-year-old Alonte Cousar and 27-year-old Andre Issac are responsible for killing 43-year-old Desta Hagos and injuring two others.

"The world is cold. It's cold, the world is really cold," says Keanta Mims.

Mims says he's in a place of sadness and pain because his friend and Gray Franklin Express clerk Tomeka Lynch was shot several times in Gastonia while on the clock Saturday night.

Lynch is a mom of three and known for her bubbly personality. She's now in the hospital fighting for her life.

"Always fun, always fun loving and always outgoing," Mims added.

He says it's not hard to believe he lives in a dangerous place after seeing his loved one gunned down.

"It's scary, but at the same time it's just all messed up. The world shouldn't be like this, that's just how I feel. It's no point, there's no reason," Mims said.

But police say the men responsible for shooting Lynch didn't stop there. Just five minutes away, another convenient store was targeted. This time it was Zula Express on East Ozark.

Officers say Cousar and Issac pulled the trigger again during their second stop, killing Hagos and injuring Berhan Zereyohanes. Hagos just moved to the area five months ago from East Africa.

Countless people stopped by the gas station to pay their respects by dropping off flowers, cards and bears. Messages were written on the window in Hagos's honor, and there's another message the folks in the area want to share.

"I'm heartbroken. Really heartbroken. I'm devastated," said Pochantas, who frequently shops at Zula Express.

Customers like Pocahontas knew the family well and say they didn't deserve this because they were all warm, welcoming and known for helping people in need. 
"We're not going to have this in our community. You're not going to come here and do this," Pocahontas added.

Cousar and Issac went before a Gaston County Judge Monday morning for the shootings. They both will continue to sit in jail with no chance of bonding out. Their next court dates are in June.

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