Less than a year after he was convicted of assaulting a neighbor, Anthony Charles Hardy received a concealed carry permit from the Cabarrus County Sheriffs Office, an approval that N.C. law prohibits.
Hardy who authorities said fatally shot two of his neighbors before killing himself on Friday received a concealed carry permit in September 2005, shortly after a prayer for judgment conviction for misdemeanor assault and battery, state records show.
According to N.C. law, a sheriff must deny a permit to an applicant who has been found guilty, received a prayer for judgment continued, or had a sentence suspended for a violent misdemeanor.
Cabarrus County Chief Deputy Paul Hunt said the employee who would have approved the permit application has since retired.
Police said Hardy shot and killed his neighbors Friday on either side of his two-story brick home in the Windsor Forest neighborhood in Harrisburg.
Daniel Thomas Kirchner, 42, and Gary Wade Stocks, 64, were shot in the backyard of Kirchners house. Hardy later killed himself in his own house during a standoff with Cabarrus County deputies.
On Monday, the release of a 911 call made by Daniel Kirchners wife revealed more details about the shootings.
In the call, Lisa Kirchner tells a dispatcher that my neighbor has a gun and hes shooting in my backyard.
The dispatcher asks if the shooter has a pistol or a rifle.
It was a black handgun, thats all I know, Kirchner replies.
When she no longer sees the shooter, Kirchner goes outside to her husband.
Oh my God hes dead, she tells the dispatcher. Hes not breathing.
The dispatcher asks where her husband was shot.
Right in the middle of his stomach, Kirchner replies.
Previous neighborhood assault
Hardys previous violent run-in with a neighbor occurred on Oct. 14, 2004 the case in which he was later convicted of misdemeanor assault.
According to a statement to police at the time, then-resident Michael Welton, who later sold his house to the Kirchners, recounted what happened:
Upon ringing doorbell, Tony asked about a sign in his front yard. He proceeded to enter my house physically kicking & punching, screaming son of a b----. Proceeded to punch me in the face as well as kick me in the face.
In the statement, Welton said he ran into his utility room, shut the door and called the police.
Hardy received a prayer for judgment conviction for the assault in 2004.
Despite that violent misdemeanor, Hardy received his concealed carry permit from Cabarrus County in 2005.
But when Hardy went back to the county office for a renewal in 2010, Cabarrus County denied his application because of his assault charge, Sgt. Susan Johnson, records supervisor, said.
Soon after, Hardy returned to get his fingerprint card, Johnson said. He told county officials he planned to get a concealed carry permit through Floridas nonresident concealed carry program.
The permit would be valid in North Carolina through an agreement among various states, Johnson said.
Its unknown whether Hardy received a concealed weapon permit in Florida, since such permits are confidential.
As of Feb. 28, 1.03 million people held concealed weapons permits from Florida, including 124,589 from out-of-state residents. By comparison, North Carolina has 300,000 concealed carry permit holders.
In Florida, concealed weapon permit applicants must pass fingerprint-based state and federal background checks, said a spokeswoman with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Division of Licensing.
Unlike North Carolina, however, Florida allows those convicted of a violent (but not domestic) misdemeanor to receive a concealed carry permit if three years have elapsed since the defendants probation or court-imposed conditions.
Even if he had been denied a concealed carry permit in North Carolina, Hardy would have been eligible to get a handgun purchase permit through the Sheriffs Office, despite his conviction.
Its unclear whether he ever applied for or received a permit to buy a handgun.
No known motive for shooting
Authorities have not released an official motive for the shooting on Friday.
Some neighbors suggested Hardy was angry about trees that were cut down behind his house. Kirchner was president of the Windsor Forest homeowners association.
Hardys property backs up to the berm where the pine trees create some privacy from Tom Query Road.
But on Monday, one board member, who asked not to be identified, said that Hardy never indicated to the board or the property management group that he was upset about the tree removal.
In fact, Hardy paid for the tree company to remove additional trees in his yard, the board member said.
Hardy paid Joes Tree Care of Salisbury $100 to remove two cypress trees beside his house, said business owner Joe Keener.
I dont have any fears, the board member said. The board feels like Dan was not targeted for being on the board.
Cabarrus County Sheriffs Detective Sgt. Kevin Pfister also said that the departments investigations had not suggested there was an ongoing feud between Hardy and Kirchner and Stocks.
This is a very unfortunate incident. Nobody truly knows the reasons why this happened, Hunt said. Its going to be hard to come up with closure for these families because it seems like such a senseless tragedy.
Staff researcher Maria David contributed.