HOPEWELL, Va. (WTVR)–Hopewell Police are investigating the first homicide of 2013 inside a home on Buren Street.
A man confronted an intruder and shots are fired, but police don’t think this is a random crime.
Buren Street in Hopewell. A place with tidy homes flying American flags and where neighbors watch out for each other.
But the quiet calm was shattered early Friday morning. An armed intruder breaks into 915 Buren just before 6 in the morning.
Richard Hawthorne, who lives in the home, confronts the person. Moments later gunshots ring out. The 41-year-old dies inside with his mother just feet away.
Neighbor Justin Parke says he heard gunfire just a few houses away.
“When I heard it I was right there in my living room watching television. It was like boom…boom…boom,” says Parke.
“There is a probability here that the victim was not the intended target,” says Hopewell Police Chief, John Keohane. “Right now for the residents it does not appear to be a random act of violence in their neighborhood.”
One neighbor who didn’t want to be identified says she is leaving when her lease is up in June.
“It’s too close for comfort. It’s scary. Really scary. My heart goes out to the parents or whoever has been suffering but it is heartbreaking.”
Long time neighbors like Isabel Vartanian are worried about a killer on the loose.
“We need Hopewell to be like when I was growing up. Scares me to death. Definitely,” says Vartanian . “It breaks my heart to see that somebody was murdered right here.”
Richard Hawthorne was a registered sex offender with the Virginia State Police since 1995, but Hopewell’s police chief emphasizes the shooting was not related.
“At this point there is nothing to believe that him being on a sex offender registry has anything to do with this homicide,” says Chief Keohane.
For Vartanian, she just wants the person who pulled the trigger caught soon so she can rest easier.
“We never had any crime growing up. We were safe and did not have hate.”
Late Friday afternoon Hopewell police were still processing the crime scene and investigators were interviewing persons of interest.
The Chief of Police says detectives are following strong leads in the case. If you know anything about Richard Hawthorne’s death you’re asked to call Hopewell Police at 804-541-2222.