HARRISBURG A six-hour SWAT team standoff ended late Friday with a suspected shooter and two of his neighbors dead, police say.
A Cabarrus County sheriffs official said the suspect apparently shot himself as deputies and SWAT team members surrounded the house where he was hiding. Earlier Friday, the suspect shot and killed two others, police say, in what they described as a neighborhood dispute.
Authorities said Anthony Charles Hardy, 50, shot and killed neighbors Daniel Thomas Kirchner, 42, and Gary Wade Stocks, 64, in the backyard of Kirchner's house at 7791 Coachman Court.
Hardy later killed himself after seeking refuge from police in his own home at 7795 Coachman Court, located between the houses of Kirchner and Stocks. The three brick homes are situated at the end of a cul-de-sac in the Windsor Forest neighborhood that backs up to Tom Query Road in Harrisburg.
Police negotiated with Hardy for several hours, during which time he fired at least twice inside his home, sheriff Brad Riley said in a news release.
Neighbors said Hardy was angry about pine trees that were cut down behind his house and that the victims were on the homeowners association board that approved the removal of the trees.
Deputies responded to the scene just after 4 p.m. when Kirchners wife Lisa called to say a neighbor was shooting at her husband and Stocks in her backyard.
Family members at the scene late Friday identified one of the victims as Dan Kirchner and said he was president of the Windsor Forest homeowners association.
Before the shooting, both Kirchner and his wife were in the couples backyard, brother-in-law Scott Griffin said.
He said Dan and Lisa Kirchner ran for the house when Hardy started shooting. She made it, but Dan Kirchner was shot before he could get inside the house, Griffin said.
The Kirchners young daughters witnessed the shooting, family members said.
Neighbors said the Hardy was angry at Kirchner and Stocks because they were on the homeowners association board that had approved removing pine trees on a berm behind the three homes.
The pine trees were in the way of power lines and were removed last week, said resident Scott Epley, who has also served as a general contractor for the homeowners association.
Neighbors said Hardy was known as a recluse. He lived in his home alone and had been aggressive toward other neighbors in the past, they said.
In 2004, Hardy was found guilty of assaulting a previous neighbor, criminal records show.
Kristine Bishopp, who lives three doors down from the shooting scene, said she and her 14-year-old son heard eight gunshots fired just before 4 p.m.
Clarence Lowdermilk lives next door to where shots were fired, he said, and heard about three gunshots at 4 p.m.
Afterward he received a call from the Sheriffs Office advising him to stay indoors, because authorities were responding to a standoff situation near him.
Later, neighbors learned that two people had been fatally shot.
Authorities blocked entry to the neighborhood off Tom Query Road. By 9:30 p.m., some residents were still unable to get into their neighborhood.
Late Friday, a SWAT team was camped outside of Bishopps home and police with guns drawn were using her backyard to approach 7791 Coachman Court.
SWAT team people just ran through my yard with a bullhorn, Bishopp told an Observer reporter by phone just after 7 p.m.
Both Bishopp and Lowdermilk saw police officers escort a woman and children away from the Coachman Court house after the shots were fired.
Lowdermilk reported seeing a body lying in the backyard.
Dispatchers with the Sheriffs Office could not release other information about the standoff and said all available sheriffs deputies were on the scene.
Resident Scott Epley said some 40 emergency vehicles were in the area near his Wynford Court home.
Authorities were using EMS trucks to block roadways, Epley said.
Deputies said Kirchner's wife Lisa was the person who originally alerted them to the shooting scene.
Steele: 704-358-5067 on Twitter: @steelecs