First Posted: 1/15/2009
Mark Locklear and Matt Elofson – Staff writers
LUMBERTON - Chad Arnette's friends say a simple text-message triggered a series of events that led to the 21-year-old's stabbing death early Thursday.
They say Arnette had been text messaging William “Drew” Floyd's girlfriend and Floyd found out and challenged him to a fight shortly after midnight in the parking lot of Bo's Supermarket on Robert Avenue during which Arnette stabbed.
Arnette died while trying to drive himself to Southeastern Regional Medical Center. On the way to the hospital, he lost consciousness and his Ford pickup smashed into the showcase window at Aaron's Sale and Lease on Roberts Avenue.
Floyd, 22, of Turnpike Road, Lumberton, was charged Thursday morning with second-degree murder and was released from jail after posting $100,000 bail. Floyd works at his family's business, Robeson Electric.
Police Detective Sgt. Howard Reaves said at least five people were at the parking lot during the fight. It is unclear if more people will be charged.
Reaves said Arnette was stabbed in the stomach.
“This was over a text message,” said a friend of the Arnette family who called The Robesonian Thursday afternoon and left a voice message but did not give her name. “This is what this society has become … it is outrageous.”
Reaves would not talk about the text messages, but said police seized several cell phones as evidence. Investigators also collected a baseball bat and several knives, according to Reaves.
“I know they were there fighting because of some argument about a girl,” Reaves said.
Justin Davis, a friend of Arnette, said Arnette was at home Wednesday night when he got a call on his cell phone telling him to meet Floyd.
“They'd had disputes before,” Davis said.
Arnette drove to the parking lot with his friend, 21-year-old Lee Hunt of Proctorville. Hunt was a passenger in the Ford pick-up when it smashed through the rental store's glass front, but he was not injured.
Davis said witnesses to the fight told him that a kitchen knife was used and that Arnette was armed with a baseball bat.
“He was my best friend,” Davis said. “He was like my brother.”
The two met while playing Little League baseball.
“Chad was outgoing,” said Davis, who is 20. “He always wanted to shoot pool and hang out. You could never get him to sit still. He was always on the road. If he needed something, he would call me and vice-versa.”
Friends and family said Arnette was a hard worker. He dropped out of Lumberton High School during his 11th grade year, but had worked with his family's construction firm, C.M. Lindsay and Sons in Lumberton, since he was 12. He operated heavy equipment.
Aaron's Sale and Lease was closed Thursday but reopened this morning.