The teen accused of killing Charlotte hospital executive Robert Barber had become increasingly troubled in recent months.
Chauncey Sterling, 18, dropped out of ninth grade in February. He became a father for the second time in March. And in early April, he was arrested and accused of beating up the mother of his children.
His mother knew he was struggling and grew more worried over the weekend when she saw her son reading the Bible.
"I thought my boy must be depressed," said Wanda Sterling. "I had never seen him read it like that."
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Chauncey Sterling was arrested Sunday near his Rock Hill home, accused with the Good Friday killing of Barber in south Charlotte. He's now in the Mecklenburg County jail, charged with murder and armed robbery.
Barber, 64, was walking home from the Caribou Coffee on Fairview Road when he was shot and killed about 10:15 a.m. on a quiet street not far from SouthPark mall. His wife, who'd been with him at the coffee shop, had gone to work, and Barber had decided to walk home.
Police said Sterling had been in the area visiting with relatives, and was out looking for someone to rob when he came across Barber.
During a brief struggle, police said, Barber was shot.
"This was a random act of violence," police Chief Rodney Monroe said at a news conference.
"He was looking for someone to rob in that area," Monroe said. "Unfortunately, Mr. Barber came along."
Monroe said police believe Sterling acted alone, and there are no indications that gang activity was involved.
CMPD detectives, joined by Rock Hill Police and the York County Sheriff's Office, learned Sunday where they could find Sterling. Shortly after 10 p.m., police arrested him without incident on Fargo Street in Rock Hill, about 1.5 miles from the apartment where he lives.
Monroe said police recovered a gun they believe is the murder weapon.
He said tips from the public and cooperation from Sterling's family helped lead to the teen's arrest.
Wanda Sterling said she and her family assisted investigators because she was afraid her son could be hurt if confronted by police.
"We told him if he did a crime you can't run," she recalled.
But she said she does not believe her son would intentionally kill anyone. Chauncey Sterling never carried a gun or knife, his mother said. She described him as a caring father and loving son, who'd won youth football trophies.
In recent months, however, she said she noticed that he was increasingly under pressure to make money and support his children. On a Facebook page under his name, Sterling repeatedly writes about wanting to make money. But his mother said he was so inexperienced making money that when he received his first paycheck from a job last summer, he didn't know how to cash it.
The Facebook page listed 614 friends and includes photos of a child Sterling identifies as "my little girl," as well as pictures of himself flashing hand gestures.
His last post, on April 17, suggests he's frustrated.
One post says: "U knw lately i been n dis zone like i dnt give a f--- n everything around me but i was built n made to complete a task dat is to get rich hustle or die b----."
Another says: "MONEY ON MY MIND B---- EVERY DAY...."
And: "money over everything f--- da world."
On Feb. 15, Sterling dropped out of Northwestern High School, with only enough credits to qualify as a freshman. His mother said he was taking online courses to obtain his diploma.
On April 5, S.C. court records show, he was arrested in York County.
The 16-year-old mother of Sterling's two children and two family members had come home to find their front door unlocked and Sterling sitting on the couch.
Sterling got into an argument and pushed the two family members, then chased the 16-year-old, a police incident report says. He began to beat her in the head, the report says. She threw a glass vase at him, which he threw back, causing the vase to break.
Sterling fled on foot but was later found by Rock Hill Police at a football stadium.
Sterling claimed he'd gone to the house to see his children and that the fight stemmed from a picture she'd sent him of another man holding his child, the report said. Sterling was released on bond a few days later.
He was in south Charlotte Friday visiting his sister, Sterling's mother said.
Charlotte Observer writer Steve Lyttle, researcher Maria David and Herald reporter Nicole Smith contributed
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