HALLSBORO, NC (WWAY) -- Three Columbus County teenagers have been arrested and charged with murdering a Hallsboro man after deputies say they bragged to classmates at East Columbus High School.
Last month, Keith Gachette's wife came home to find her husband dead, lying on the floor.
The Columbus County Sheriff's Office says they believe the three suspects staged a robbery after shooting Gachette in the head, but it was how deputies discovered this that is most shocking.
"They had bragged to some classmates about some of the issues that went on that led up to the shooting and from that point the information just kept coming in," Sheriff Chris Batten said.
The three arrested Thursday were 18-year-old Tarrence Shakil Hazel, 16-year-old Kenneth Da' Shawn Williams, and 16-year-old Marquice Alexander Antone, who Batten says is Gachette's cousin. All three were charged with armed robbery and the murder of Gachette, who lived at 2035 Palmetto Bay Rd. in Hallsboro.
"He was just an exceptional person," said Melissa Ray, Gachette's neighbor. "I mean, you immediately liked him when you met him."
"I think they probably went there with the intentions of robbing him, and there was probably a struggle the way it appeared in the home, and then at that point they overcame him and shot him," Batten said.
Batten says two of the young men went to East Columbus High School. He says students who overheard them bragging told deputies, who then found three of Gachette's guns in the suspects' homes Thursday.
"It's just an eerie feeling knowing that that happened so close to your house and it hadn't been solved up until now," Ray said.
Batten says the three have been transported to the New Hanover County Jail. Their bond was set at $100,000 for the armed robbery and no bond for the first-degree murder charge. Their next appearance in court is on June 6 in Columbus County.