CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Police are still looking for the person who shot a man who was renovating a home Tuesday afternoon just outside of uptown Charlotte.
Matthew Hawkins, 39, was shot in the head during an attempted robbery on East 17th Street near North McDowell Street. Hawkins was rushed into surgery at Carolinas Medical Center Tuesday but died Thursday night, police said.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg police said Hawkins and his girlfriend were doing renovations in a house on East 17th Street in the Belmont neighborhood. Around 1 p.m., a man approached and demanded money, police said.
Hawkins’ girlfriend told NewsChannel 36 what happened.
She said they were working on the house when they heard footsteps, and a man with a gun startled them. Hawkins asked what the man wanted and he told them he wanted money and a cell phone.
Hawkins said he didn’t have money on him, but had a wallet in his truck. The suspect didn’t believe him and started pointing the gun at both of them, according to the girlfriend.
She said they thought the man was on drugs and she gave him $20 out of her purse. But the gunman demanded more money and so she offered her entire purse, hoping he would leave.
She said that’s when the suspect shot Hawkins in the head and ran away.
“He was a friendly man and certainly didn’t deserve a fate of that nature,” said neighbor Craig Washington.
“Every time I saw him he was working on his house, we spoke hello,” said neighbor Jennifer Gaines.
One neighbor across the street, who asked not to be named, told The Charlotte Observer he’d seen Hawkins regularly working on the house. He’d just recently finished painting the exterior gray, the neighbor said.
Another neighbor said Hawkins just gave her a mirror he took out of the house as part of the remodeling and a former neighbor said Hawkins was always friendly and talkative and would often bring them food.
“He was really a good person,” said neighbor Hannah Ware. “When we found out he was gone, it really took a toll on my family, especially my mom and dad because my mom talked to him constantly about everything.”
Hawkins' girlfriend was not injured in the incident.
At least one front window at the home was boarded up, but the porch appeared to have been freshly painted white.
Police said the man who pulled the trigger fled the area on foot and officers on ground and in a CMPD helicopter unsuccessfully canvassed the area Tuesday.
The suspect is described by police is a dark-skinned black man who was last seen wearing a t-shirt and long dark shorts. He was last spotted on foot heading towards North McDowell Street.
Since the 1970s, Belmont community leaders have tried to improve the neighborhood, where low-income residents have been plagued by crime over the years. In a revitalization effort launched within the past decade, the city began investing in housing and infrastructure improvements and help neighborhood residents with resources to manage the community.
Neighbors said they’d seen improvements, but drug problems linger despite regular police patrols. Some said it’s common to see people strolling along some streets there late at night or stopping at a home, then going inside for only a few minutes before walking away.
If you have any information that can help police with this case, you are asked to call the CMPD tip line at 704-432-TIPS.