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Police Arrest Suspect in Sharpsburg Double Shooting

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Sharpsburg Police Chief Wayne Hathaway.
SHARPSBURG — Nash County Sheriff Jimmy Grimes hasconfirmed that authorities have arrested the man charged with shooting his wife and the Sharpsburg police chief. Grimes says Abner Nicholson wasarrested at a residence near the mobile home park where the shootings tookplace Tuesday.

Authorities arrested Nicholson about midnight and took him to theWilson County Jail. A team of more than 100 law enforcement officers fromEdgecombe to Wake counties participated in the extensive manhunt thatbegan just after the shootings and ended with the suspect's arrest.

Grimes didn't have any more information.

A news conference is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Friday at the WilsonCounty Sheriff's Department.

Chief Wayne Hathaway is the second area law enforcement officer in thelast week to be shot while on duty.

Chief Hathaway was airlifted to Duke Medical Center shortly after 5 p.m. Thursday in critical condition. Duke has what is considered anexcellent head trauma treatment facility. A police spokesman said Hale wasshot once in the head at pointblank range and "it did not look good", buta relative of Hathaway said he was awake and was able to understand whatwas being said to him at Nash General. He had 20 to 30 friends and familymembers with him in the intensive care unit. A hospital spokesperson saidno surgery was scheduled.

Hathaway, a 47-year-old divorced father of one son, hasbeen Chief of Sharpsburg's 5-person police force for nearly 25 years.

Hathaway's friend Tim Shearin says those who know him are very worried.

Sharpsburg Police Commissioner Peggy Joyner says the town is in astate of shock.

Gloria Brown Nicholson, 26, wife of the suspect, was shot threetimes and died at the scene. Her daughter and 14-year-old stepbrother werealso shot at, butwere not injured. Wilson County Sheriff Wayne Gay said at a pressconference that Mrs. Nicholson had requested a warrant for the arrest ofher husband on assault charges Wednesday night. Thursday, he said, thesuspect returned to the mobile home to get some clothing. That's when theshooting started.

Nicholson is believed to have used a .25-caliber weapon onhis wife and Chief Hathaway.

Emily McKenzie lives near the Nicholson home. She said he walked awayfrom the scene carrying a gun in one hand and a plastic bag in theother and looked right at her as he passed.

Nicholson was found guilty of assault in Edgecombe County in 1995 andwas charged with assaulting a woman one other time. He also has beencharged with trespassing, damage to personal property and, on severaloccasions, driving without a license. All of the charges were made between1990 and 1995 and all were in Nash and Edgecombe counties. His last knownaddress was in Whitakers, North Carolina and he once lived in Rocky Mount.

Officers involved in the search were advised to wear body armor and nodoubt were recalling last Friday's shooting of Raleigh police Det. PaulHale. Hale was shot in the head and killed while looking for a murdersuspect. He was buried Tuesday and left behind a wife and two daughters.

Thursday's shooting occurred in the Weaver mobile home park inSharpsburg, a largely rural area where the Nash, Edgecombe andWilson county lines meet. Hathaway was responding to a domesticdispute complaint at the Nicholson home when he was shot.

Officers surrounded the Starlight motel early Thursday afternoon whenthey thought Nicholson might have been hiding there. A search of the motelturned up nothing about his whereabouts.

The North Carolina Highway Patrol kept its helicopter up wellinto the night Thursday searching forNicholson who fled on foot into nearby corn fields. Earlier in the day, a detective also flew with WRAL's Sky5, which helped with the search. Whennight fell, the helicopters used heat-sensing technology forsearching in the dark. Police had said they would not stop looking untilthey found Nicholson. Highway patrol officers cordoned of an area with aradius of 5 miles around the crime scene and stopped all vehicles leavingthe area to make sure Nicholson was not a stowaway.

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