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Friends of slain businessman thankful for arrest

Police on Tuesday charged Gene Arnold Hawkins Jr. with murder in the Feb. 2, 2006, slaying of Roanoke Rapids businessman Shelby Salmon.

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ROANOKE RAPIDS, N.C. — Friends of a Roanoke Rapids businessman who was shot to death more than three years ago said Wednesday they were pleased police never gave up on finding the gunman.

Police on Tuesday charged Gene Arnold Hawkins Jr., 26, with murder in the Feb. 2, 2006, slaying of Shelby Salmon.

Salmon’s wife found him dead at his office, at 1135 Roanoke Ave., and investigators said he had been forced to lie on the ground while the gunman robbed him and shot him in the head.

"I was just hoping that one day they would come up with an answer, and now it looks like maybe they have," said Howard Hale, a friend of Salmon's.

"That's a wonderful relief that he's off the street," said Dorothy Edmonds, another friend.

Police said they recently received information that led them to Hawkins, but they declined to release details.

Hawkins has been in prison since 2007, and he has a lengthy criminal background, including convictions for fraud, drug offenses, theft and assault.

Salmon's friends said a lot of people in Roanoke Rapids remember him. His former investment business has been sold, and the building now houses a locksmith shop.

Still, they said, his memory won't fade any time soon.

"We can't bring Shelby back, but we always think about him," Hale said.

"I know we've missed him. We have really missed him," Edmonds said.

Beatrice Salmon called the arrest in her husband's death "glorious" but declined to comment further.


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