Police are still looking for a fourth suspect in an overnight killing that left a former area football star dead and three others in jail charged with first-degree murder.
Richard "R.J." Nathaniel Abernathy, 20, was pronounced dead at the scene after police arrived at the 1200 block of Balthis Drive at 12:24 a.m. Monday, Sgt. Nancy Capistran said.
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Just before 7 a.m., police had charged Dawan Altarqi Myers, of 606 N. Weldon St., Gastonia, with first-degree murder. He was booked into Gaston County Jail without bond. A short time later, police also charged two others — Jonqae Delshun Griggs, 19, and Jahqualyn Travis Goode, 18, with first-degree murder in Abernathy's death.
Police are also looking for 19-year-old Kevin Davon Goodwin in connection with the killing. A warrant for first-degree murder has been taken out against him.
A former Cherryville High School athlete, Abernathy was instrumental in leading the Ironmen to a conference title in 2013, the program's first in 78 years. He rushed for 208 yards and scored five touchdowns against Highland Tech in the team's only playoff win since 2006.
Rashee Elmore considered Abernathy one of his closest friends. Hours after his friend's death, he said he still couldn't get his head around what happened.
"We're family. We can't get no closer," Elmore said. "My heart hurt. My head hurts, and I can't get him back."
Abernathy leaves behind an infant son. Elmore, a boxer now living in Indiana, stayed in contact with Abernathy after the move.
The loss hurts deeply for Elmore, who will never have the chance to make memories with his friend again.
"I'm never going to be able to see his face, chill with him, none of that," Elmore said. "It's over, and for what? What was the point? It's stupid."
Anyone who knows Goodwin's whereabouts is asked to call Gastonia Police at 704-866-6702.