According to investigators, a neighbor reported seeing smoke at a house on Emerson Drive.
Firefighters arrived, extinguished a fire in the living room and then found a man, identified as Kenneth Lynn Redding, 36, dead in a front bedroom. Police said Redding had been shot; a handgun was also found inside the residence.
Residents in the neighborhood where Reddy lived were shocked and concerned by the discovery and investigation.
"It's a very quiet neighborhood, and I am very shocked to hear this," said a neighbor who asked not to be identified for safety reasons. "These things happen, but I don't know -- I want to know myself what happened living so close here."
Several other neighbors told WRAL that investigators have asked them not to discuss the case with anyone.
Authorities have said very little, saying they are treating the case as a suspicious death. They also confirmed that flammable materials were found inside the house, but would not elaborate on the finding.
The State Bureau of Investigation has been called in to assist with the case.
Friends said Redding owned a landscaping business and said that his family ran a Rocky Mount restaurant for decades. Redding took the restaurant over from his parents in 2000, and new owners reopened it last month.
"I think it's a tragedy, and our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Mr. Redding," said Phil Hall, a friend of the victim. "He was a good guy."