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3rd homicide in 24 hours in Charlotte

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department detectives spent the Labor Day holiday dealing with the aftermath of three separate fatal shootings reported throughout the city Sunday.

There was no apparent connection between any of the homicide cases, on what was the deadliest day in Charlotte in years. The last slaying was the fourth homicide in the city since Thursday, after a year in which Charlotte appeared headed for one of its lowest murder totals in years.

The first two fatal shootings took place in the early morning Sunday, and the third happened 90 minutes before midnight. In each case, the victim was a man in his 20s or 30s.

Killed in the Sunday-night shooting was 32-year-old James David Lockhart. His body was found shortly before 10:30 p.m. in the 5400 block of Manning Road, in a north Charlotte neighborhood bounded by Nevin Road, North Graham Street and West Sugar Creek Road.

Monday, police arrested Robert Martin, 27, Richard Payne, 24, and Moises Puente, 31, and charged them with Lockhart’s murder, robbery with a dangerous weapon and conspiracy to commit robbery with a dangerous weapon.

Police said the four men knew each other and that Lockhart was shot during a drug deal. Investigators said Lockhart died at the scene of the shooting.

The first of the homicides was reported just a few minutes after midnight Saturday.

Police said they were called shortly before 12:05 a.m. to a residence in the 9200 block of Trinity Road, off Beatties Ford Road in northwest Charlotte.

Investigators say they arrived to find a man suffering from a gunshot wound. The victim was identified later as Earnest Sean Milton, 34. Police are not saying what might have led to the shooting.

About 90 minutes after being called to Trinity Road, police were summoned to the El Gavilan Club in the 3800 block of Driftwood Drive, off Central Avenue. The victim in that shooting was identified as Jose Jesus Hernandez-Diaz, 26.

Detectives said another person was shot and suffered life-threatening injuries. Police say they believe the shootings took place inside the club.

The deaths increased Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s homicide total this year to 34 – four fewer than last year at this time.

The 52 homicides last year were the fewest for Charlotte-Mecklenburg police in 24 years.

Police are asking for the public’s help in all three of Sunday’s shootings. Anyone with information can call detectives at 704-432-8477 (TIPS) or leave information with Crime Stoppers at 704-334-1600.

Staff writer Lindsay Ruebens contributed.

Steve Lyttle: 704-358-6107 Twitter: @slyttle
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