Vigil honors Harrisburg victims gunned down by neighbor

Vigil honors Harrisburg victims gunned down by neighbor


by DIANA RUGG / NBC Charlotte

Bio | Email | Follow: @DianaRuggwcnc

Posted on March 30, 2013 at 11:19 PM

Updated Saturday, Mar 30 at 11:24 PM

HARRISBURG, N.C. -- Saturday night, dozens of neighbors gathered at a vigil in the Windsor Forest neighborhood pool to remember two men who died just feet from where they now stood.

Dan Kirchner, 42, and Gary Stocks, 64, died when another neighbor opened fire on them as they stood in Kirchner's back yard.

A statement from Cabarrus County sheriff Brad Riley said the gunman, Anthony Hardy, had approached Kirchner just before the shooting.  The three live in adjacent houses on a cul-de-sac at the end of Coachman Court that back up to Tom Query Road.

After a standoff with deputies that lasted several hours, Hardy shot himself.

No motive has been named in the attack.

Harrisburg Mayor Tim Hagler offered words of condolence at the vigil.

"Great men, great men -- family men -- just a loss for the community," said the mayor afterwards.

Hagler said a small town like Harrisburg pulls together in tragic times to share the grief.

"When one hurts -- one neighborhood hurts -- we all hurt," he said.

Neighbors had silently poured out their grief all day Saturday, hanging purple wreaths at the neighborhood entrance and tying bows on mailboxes. 

A note on the home owners' association website expressed condolences, noting that Kirchner was a husband and father, and Stocks was a retired Vietnam veteran with a grown son and grandchildren.

Kirchner was the HOA's president.

Anthony Hardy's friends also expressed shock.

"Three lives were lost, in a very tragic way," said Charlotte Writers' Club president David Radavich.  "There's no explanation for it."

Radavich called Hardy a gifted poet and "gentle soul" who had been chosen two perform readings for the large club twice in the past year -- an honor for members.

He said he saw Hardy just ten days ago and didn't notice anything out of the ordinary about his behavior -- then, or ever.  He was stunned to hear what happened.

"There's something to me, too, about the idea of a poet losing control in that way," mused Radavich.  "That's very disturbing."

Internet websites show Hardy was a pharmacist who owned his own freelance pharmacy business, and listed volunteer work at two free clinics in the area.

As neighbors wonder why such a tragedy landed on their small community, Mayor Hagler said this is a time for grieving.

"All we can do is be here for one another, lean on one another, love on one another, and pray for one another, he said, because that's where the healing starts."