$7,000 Reward Now Offered in Robbery and Murder Case of 45-Year Trucker
Gaston, NC – The reward to help bring to justice the person(s) responsible for the murder of a 67-year-old North Carolina-trucker has now grown to $7,000.
In June, Transportation Nation Network (TNN) reported on the tragic shooting death of truck driver Robert Pane Hale, a.k.a. “Cowboy.”
Hale, a trucker of 45 years, was gunned down on June 24 while unloading items from his personal vehicle into a big rig at approximately 11:30 p.m. in the parking lot of a Hardee’s restaurant in Gaston, police reported.
After hearing a gunshot ring out into the night, Gaston Police officers patrolling nearby hurried to the scene and found Hale’s body lying on the ground between his personal vehicle and a tractor-trailer owned by Wilson, NC-based Barnes Transportation.
In an announcement at the Gaston Police Department on Tuesday, December 10, Chris Henry, Barnes Senior Director of Operational Support, said the carrier is offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of anyone responsible for Hale’s death.
Additionally, Henry also declared the Barnes family, owners of the 255-truck company, is also pledging $1,000 in reward money.
“So many cases are so easily forgettable to news agencies, so that is why the company and its owners doing this is so important,” Henry said, according to local news outlet wakeweekly.com.
“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.”
Henry’s announcement comes on the heels of North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper’s declaration on November 21 that the state is offering a reward of $5,000.
“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,” Henry commented.
As a result of Hale’s death, Henry indicated the company is taking a fresh look at safety protocols and procedures for its drivers.
“We are definitely circling the wagons on this. 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,” he explained.
Gaston Police investigators provided an update on the case this week.
According to Gaston Police Chief Corey Dixon, the motive for the shooting has been confirmed as a robbery.
Dixon revealed the responding officers saw a dark-colored vehicle speed away from the scene that night.
Dixon said investigators were unfortunately not able to discern a make and model on the vehicle.
He also indicated authorities still do not have a physical description of the suspect or suspects at this time.
In June, TNN spoke with Hale’s nephew, Antonio Hale, in an exclusive interview.
He said that though his uncle is gone, his legacy will live on through those whose lives were touched by him.
“He was a staple of the community,” Antonio recalled. “Everyone knew him!”
In addition to having one son and three daughters, Hale also played the role of a father figure in Antonio’s life and for two of his cousins.
He told TNN that Hale’s trucking career began in 1974 when he went to work for Youngblood Trucking.
Hale loved being a trucker, according to Antonio.
“He instilled hard work and a love for trucking in us,” Antonio fondly remarked. “He is greatly missed already.”
Anyone having information concerning this case is urged to contact the Gaston Police Department at (252) 537-1047, Northampton County Crimestoppers at (252) 534-1110, Halifax County Crime Stoppers at (252) 583-4444 or the State Bureau of Investigation at (919) 662-4500.