21-year-old man arrested in connection with murder of Hickory man

HICKORY, N.C. — A 21-year-old man has been arrested in connection with the homicide of Shonniel Blackburn, the 35-year-old father who was shot and killed on June 13.

Police said Aunshae Conley was taken into custody by U.S. Marshals Friday. He is currently being held in the Catawba County Jail without bond.

The final teen suspect wanted in connection with this case was taken into custody by the Hickory Police Department investigators on July 17.

Police had been searching for a stolen car that the 15-year-old was driving. Three other teenage suspects were taken into custody earlier, according to authorities.

Blackburn was found dead at the Blue Ridge Heights apartments along South Center Street, near Highway 70. Family members say the father of five was about to go pick up his children.

Wednesday morning, Channel 9 confirmed three 16-year-olds were arrested and charged with Blackburn’s murder. Police then searched for the 15-year-old boy. Investigators said because of their ages, they cannot share the identities of the suspects.

Authorities said the 15-year-old was seen driving a silver 2019 Nissan Sentra with North Carolina license plate number RDJ-7400.

Lakendra Barnes said her Sentra was stolen from apartments off of 21st Southeast in Hickory on Monday. Police did confirm that the teenager has been seen inside the stolen car.

She bought the car earlier this year and had only made a few payments.

Barnes said she woke up and the car was gone.

Channel 9′s Dave Faherty could see cameras across the street from where the father of five was shot and killed. Witnesses told Faherty on Monday as many as a dozen shots were fired.

Pinky Sims showed Faherty where her brother was shot and killed. She said Blackburn had just stepped out of an apartment when someone opened fire.

“My heart fell,” Sims said. “My heart dropped.”

Her sister, Evelyn McRae, showed Faherty photos of the 35-year-old.

The murder comes less than two weeks after another deadly daytime shooting happened two blocks away. In that incident, a teenager was killed.

“I wish they would put the guns down and stop this violence,” Sims said. “It don’t make no sense. What happened putting hands up in the day when they would just fight.”

“He was a good father to his kids,” McRae said. “And he was getting ready to go get his kids and then they did this to him.”

Police in Hickory said violent crime is on the rise across the country.

Faherty spotted both the police chief and the sheriff in Catawba County at the shooting Monday afternoon. Police spent hours collecting evidence.

Family members said Blackburn was the second person in their family who has been killed in a shooting.

“This is the second brother that we got killed to gun violence,” McRae said. “Something has got to give.”

Police were able to identify the suspects in the case by using surveillance images from the cameras there.

After learning news of the arrest, Channel 9 reached out to the district attorney who said he will meet with police to determine if the teenagers should all be tried as adults.

Anyone with knowledge of the case or the wanted suspect’s whereabouts is asked to call the Hickory Police Department at 828-328-5551, or contact Investigator C. Laffon at claffon@hickorync.gov.

(WATCH PREVIOUS BELOW: 4 teens wanted for murder after father of 5 shot, killed in Hickory, police say)