Family believes victim shot over long time dispute
Family members say a man walked into Harry Lee Tate’s house Saturday night and put a gun to his daughter’s head, asking for her father. When Tate appeared, the man shot him in the chest.
Juliet Tate Newton says her brother Harry Lee Tate was murdered Saturday night by a man who walked into his unlocked house.
“When he turned around he was facing this guy, standing there with a gun to his daughter’s head, and he pushes the child out of the way and shoots my brother in the chest,” Juliet said.
Family members believe the murder started with a dispute two years ago over a mail truck Tate sold to the man they believe killed him.
They say Harry and his wife saw the man at the store over the weekend, but didn’t exchange words.
“This is a very small community, a close-knitted community, the family is very devastated,” Juliet said.
The Tate family grew up on a farm in Willard. A street is named after Harry’s great-great grandfather. The family never imagined something like this would happen here.
Harry’s cousin Jimmy Tate is the Chair of the Pender County Board of Commissioners.
He says it’s taking too long for authorities to make an arrest. “We don’t want this to turn into a racial war at all but we are trying to work with law enforcement officers and make sure that an arrest is made as soon as possible.”
Pender County sheriff’s deputies have interviewed several people but are holding off making an arrest until they are certain they have the right man.
Tuesday would have been Harry Tate’s 59th birthday.
“His children, his wife, my mom, we had already talked about what we were going to do for his birthday just last week, and he won’t be here, and it’s hard, it’s very hard,” Juliet said.
An autopsy today confirmed Tate died from a shot to the chest. We will let you know when an arrest has been made.
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