HICKORY, N.C. -- Rudy Wright, a beloved mayor of Hickory, was found dead in his home Thursday afternoon.
Neighbors told NBC Charlotte they heard gunshots moments before police found Wright.
However, police say they do not suspect foul play, leaving neighbors and friends wondering if the mayor took his own life.
“He was always upbeat, smiling friendly,” said Angie Aycock, Wright’s neighbor and friend of several years. “I don’t know of one person who didn’t like him.”
Mayor Wright was well known as a family man, a community champion and an outstanding public servant.
“He was always outgoing, easy to get along with,” said Joyce Bearde, who says she has been friends with the Wrights for almost two decades.
“He was just so sweet and kind to everyone he came across.”
That’s why what happened Thursday came as such a shock.
“A neighbor heard a gunshot and she said she thought that’s what happened,” Aycock said. “I was totally thrown off because he’s such an upbeat person. It had to be something weighing on him maybe.”
Bearde said the mayor did skip a recent community event that he had never missed before because he wasn’t ‘feeling well,’ although she thought nothing of it at the time. She certainly never suspected things could be much worse than he led on.
“I would never suspect that of Rudy, never,” Bearde said. “That’s why it’s such a shock.”
But no matter what happened Rudy’s service, and his smile, will never be forgotten.
“We’re going to miss him,” Aycock said.
At this point, police are not releasing any details about Mayor Wright’s death or how it happened.