Local News

Sources: Man charged in death of Durham businessman was his tenant

Posted September 1, 2008 10:07 p.m. EDT
Updated September 2, 2008 5:32 p.m. EDT

— Police say they don't believe the shooting death of a Durham businessman was prompted by an argument or long-standing dispute.

Investigators have arrested Barry Wayne Kaalund and charged him with murder in the killing of entrepreneur Ronnie Sturdivant.

Sturdivant was found shot to death Saturday afternoon at a motel-turned-thrift-store he owned. Sources say Kaalund was a tenant in the building.

"It's very sad and very unfortunate for anyone to die under these very tragic and violent circumstances,” Bill Kalkhof, president of Downtown Durham Inc., said.

Downtown Durham Inc. is trying to revitalize downtown. Kalkhof and others tried to convince Sturdivant to redevelop the old hotel and another building known as the "Oprah building," which reads "We Want Oprah!!!" in an effort to bring the talk show host to Durham. Sturdivant wouldn't budge, though, when it came to his properties.

“I think his vision for downtown revitalization and my vision differed. We simply didn't see eye-to-eye. Doesn't mean he was right or I was wrong. We just saw things differently,” Kalkhof said.

In 1998, a judge had ordered Sturdivant's old hotel to be shut down after the Health Department revoked his permit. Sturdivant had a history of going head-to-head with city officials.

The Sturdivant family issued a statement Monday:  "There are no words that can capture the loss that we have in our hearts. We ask that your thoughts and prayers be with our family and friends during this most difficult time and hope you will understand our need for privacy."

Kaalund is being held without bail at the Durham County Jail. It was unclear Monday if he had an attorney.

Funeral services will be held for Sturdivant on Saturday at Cole Mill Road Church of Christ in Durham. A viewing is scheduled from 11 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. with a funeral service scheduled fro 1 p.m.