KINGS MOUNTAIN — Guy Bickley remembers his 17-year-old daughter, Hannah, as a gentle person who always had a smile on her face.
His last words to her, spoken on the phone shortly before she went to work in Shelby Friday afternoon, were “I love you.”
Early Saturday, Hannah Bickley was shot to death and Shelby Police charged her boyfriend, Aaron Rashun Byers, 19, with murder. He was also charged with possession of a firearm by a felon and attempted armed robbery.
Authorities said the shooting took place around 2 a.m. on Holder Drive in Shelby. Officers found Bickley inside a vehicle with a single gunshot wound, and she was pronounced dead at the scene.
Police said the shooting took place during an attempted armed robbery, but haven’t identified who the intended victim was. The investigation is ongoing.
“It’s a sad case,” said Shelby Police Chief Jeff Ledford. “We want to make sure we get all the dots crossed.”
Shelby lawyer Calvin Coleman, who is representing Byers, said “some kind of terrible accident occurred that night inside the vehicle.”
“They truly loved each other,” Coleman said of the couple. “He (Byers) was practically in tears the whole time I met with him. It’s tragic. He’d give his life to take this back.”
So far, Coleman said nothing has led him to believe “there was robbery or attempted robbery.”
On Tuesday, Guy Bickley, 49, said that investigators have told him that his daughter was driving the vehicle and that Byers was in the front passenger seat, pulled a gun and attempted to rob two people in the back seat.
“There was a tussle, the gun went off and Hannah was hit,” Bickley said. “Basically, it was a botched robbery.”
According to Bickley, friends introduced his daughter to Byers about a year ago, and when they started going together her family members were unhappy because of Byers’ criminal background.
He’d been convicted several times of breaking and entering. His sentences have been suspended, and he was given probation.
Cherryville police arrested both Bickley and Byers last July on charges that included possession of marijuana and resisting a police officer, WSOC-TV reported.
“We tried to separate them,” Bickley said. “It wasn’t a healthy relationship – not a good thing. But it didn’t seem like we could keep them apart.”
Pauline Bickley called her granddaughter a “quiet, sweet, all-American girl – a diamond.”
“She found someone she cared for,” Bickley said. “But he was the wrong guy.”
Despite the family’s disappointment with her choices “no one ever gave up on her,” Bickley said. “We didn’t stop loving her.”
A Gastonia native, Hannah Bickley grew up in Kings Mountain surrounded by a large extended family.
Guy Bickley said his daughter worked two part-time jobs and attended Cherryville High School. After graduation in June, she looked forward to pursuing a career in nursing, he said.
On Friday, when he spoke with her on the phone before she went to work at the Waffle House, Bickley said his daughter’s last words to him were “I love you, too, Daddy.”
When she got off work later that night, Bickley said Hannah texted her sister, Jada Daniels, 27, of Gastonia. After exchanging greetings and photos, Hannah Bickley sent a final message: “See you soon.”
Two days before his daughter’s funeral, the words echoed in Guy Bickley’s mind.
“We were always glad to see her,” he said.
Visitation will be 6-8 p.m. Wednesday at Harris Funeral Home in Kings Mountain.
The service will be 2 p.m. Thursday at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Kings Mountain.
Gaston school officials said there will be an empty seat in memory of Hannah Bickley at the Cherryville High School graduation on June 14.