Local News

Funeral Plans Set for Police Chief

Posted July 19, 1997 12:00 a.m. EDT

— The town of Sharpsburg says good-bye to a protector and a friend. A memorial service was held Saturday for Police Chief Wayne Hathaway. He was gunned down Thursday after responding to a domestic dispute. Police say Abner Nicholson shot and killed his wife before turning the gun on Hathaway.

Police Commissioner Peggy Joyner tried to describe how the town was feeling.

A wake for Chief Hathaway will be held Saturday from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Friends and family can pay their last respects at Johnson's Funeral Home on Sunset Avenue in Rocky Mount.

On Sunday, Hathaway will be laid to rest. The funeral will be held at Sharpsburg Baptist Church at 2 p.m. Hathaway will be buried immediately after the service at Mill Branch Cemetery on Mill Branch Road in Sharpsburg.

The community is also mourning loss of 26-year-old Gloria Nicholson, the suspect's wife. Police say her husband of seven months shot her after she threw him out the house. Her brother Jarrin saw it all.

Jarrin described what happened that afternoon in his sister's trailer.

Abner Nicholson killed his wife, leaving her two little girls, ages three and eight, without a mother. The family and says they're trying to find peace.

Gloria's mother says she wants the man who killed her daughter to die. Yesterday the District Attorney said he would seek the death penalty.

Police say they found the gun they think Nicholson used to shoot the two victims. It was found in the corn field where Nicholson was hiding. Nicholson had just gotten the firearm out of the pawn shop but police say he lied to get it back. One question on the paperwork asked whether Nicholson had ever been convicted of domestic violence. He answered "no," but he was convicted for assaulting a woman back in 1990.

To buy a handgun in North Carolina, you have to apply for a permit which also means you are subject to a background check. If investigators find any felony or domestic abuse your application will be rejected.

Drug use, mental problems and pending criminal charges can also be grounds for rejection.

"Well, generally, it's a good system I think," said Sgt. Joel Turner, Cumberland County Sheriff's Office. "We have a few I'm sure slip through. We catch most that do lie about their applications that are not deserving of a firearm by law."

One flaw in the system involves old domestic violence convictions. Sometimes, they don't show up on background checks. Repeat offenders can also slip through the cracks when they use a previously issued gun permit since those permits are valid for up to five years.