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GASTON — Barnes Transportation Services Inc. is doing its part to help solve the murder of one of its employees.
Barnes Senior Director of Operational Support Chris Henry made the announcement Tuesday at the Gaston Police Department. Henry said the company is offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or people responsible for Robert Pane Hale’s death. Along with that reward, the Barnes family, who owns and operates the company, is offering its own $1,000 reward in the case, Henry said.
Henry talked about the importance of keeping Hale’s name and his case in the headlines.
“So many cases are so easily forgettable to news agencies, so that is why the company and its owners doing this is so important,” he said. “This is huge not only for the company, but for the trucking industry in whole. Truck drivers being robbed happens across this country. The safety of the drivers is a concern for every trucking company. It is very heartwarming to know that the Gaston Police Department was able to obtain the $5,000 reward from the governor’s office in this case, too. It shows that this department really does care about its community.”
The $5,000 reward was first offered by the state last month. Gov. Roy Cooper announced the reward through a proclamation. According to information in an article published June 26 in The Daily Herald, Hale was killed June 25 as he sat in the cab of his Barnes truck in the parking lot of the Hardee’s restaurant at 100 Lawrenceville Road in Gaston.
Henry said Barnes has addressed safety for its drivers as a result of Hale’s death.
“We are definitely circling the wagons on this,” he said. “We are looking at maybe changing the way our drivers park their trucks. We are also making sure that each of the company’s drivers is fully aware of his or her surroundings.”
Gaston Police Chief Corey Dixon led the investigation into the fatal shooting. He was cited in the June 26 story as saying the department’s staff was examining footage recorded by a camera mounted on the truck. The Daily Herald asked Dixon about the result of that investigation Tuesday at the Gaston Police Department. Dixon did not say whether the footage revealed any leads in the case.
“The only thing that I can confirm at this point is that as officers approached the scene, they saw a vehicle speeding away nearby,” he said. “It was driving away on a road connected to the driveway at the Hardee’s restaurant. They don’t have a make and model, though. The only thing they can say is that it was a dark-colored vehicle. We don’t have any physical description of the suspect or suspects right now. We can say that through our investigation, we know the motive was robbery.”
Dixon and Henry agreed they hope the newly offered rewards from Barnes Transportation Services Inc. and the Barnes family will encourage someone to come forward and help solve Hale’s murder.
“Every lead that we can get is vital,” Dixon said. “There weren’t any other vehicles around, but who’s to say that maybe someone was there and saw something and left before it happened? It’s possible other trucks came through, too.”
Henry expanded on Dixon’s comments as he spoke fondly of Hale.
“Robert had nearly 30 years behind the wheel,” he said. “At least one-third of that time was with Barnes Transportation Services Inc. He was a great man with great character. He was so well-liked. Our customers would comment all the time on how nice Robert was. He personified the term ‘professional driver.’ Somebody took him from his family and from the Barnes Transportation Services Inc. family when they shot him. I hope whoever did this will do the right thing and give his family closure.”