Suspect, accused of injuring child, parents in shooting, arrested in Florida

GASTON COUNTY, N.C. — Robert Louis Singletary, 24, of Gastonia, accused of injuring a 6-year-old girl and her parents in a shooting Tuesday night in Gaston County, turned himself into authorities in Tampa, Florida, authorities said Thursday night.

Channel 9′s Ken Lemon learned the shooting happened over a basketball that rolled into the suspect’s yard on April Drive, which is in a neighborhood south of Gastonia.

Neighbors said several young children were playing basketball when the ball rolled down the street and into Robert Singletary’s yard. They said Singletary got mad and ran down the street, firing a gun at a neighbor.

They said Singletary then came back, shooting at William White as White ran with his 6-year-old daughter, Kinsley.

Kinsley and mother, Ashley Hilderbrand, were grazed by bullet fragments and are back home now, but William White, who was shot, was seriously hurt and remains in a hospital.

“We don’t even know the man,” Kinsley said.

Family members said they were relieved that Singletary was in custody.

“I am so happy,” said Carolynn Hilderbrand, grandmother. “I came flying out that door shouting and throwing my hands.”

“We haven’t really got no sleep because we’ve been scared that he would come back and try to finish what he started,” said Chloe White.

A Channel 9 crew saw several entrances to the neighborhood blocked off as police investigated Tuesday night. The neighborhood remained sealed off Wednesday morning.

The biggest question that still remains is why.

Kinsley, who has stitches from bullet fragments in her cheek, is in a position no child should be in. She’s worried about her father, who suffered the most serious injuries while he was trying to protect her. She spoke to Lemon while holding her grandfather’s hand, with sadness in her eyes and the daunting question on her mind.

“Why did you shoot my daddy and me? Why did you shoot a kid’s dad?” Kinsley asked.

Neighbors said Singletary was new to the area and often got angry with children in the neighborhood.

William White became worried about his 6-year-old daughter just before Tuesday’s shooting and ran down to protect her. Police said another man was shot at during the incident but was not hurt.

Kinsley’s mother told Lemon she was outside too, and said she heard Singletary make a threat.

“He looked at my husband and my daughter and told them, ‘I’m going to kill you,’” Ashley Hilderbrand said.

Hilderbrand said Singletary chased them while shooting, and Kinsley’s father tried to draw gunfire toward him and away from the children. He was shot in the back in his front yard.

Hilderbrand said Singletary kept shooting, missing repeatedly until he was out of bullets.

“I believe he would have got me and my husband too,” said Carolynn Hilderbrand, Kinsley’s grandmother. “He just run out of bullets.”

On Wednesday, Lemon was in the neighborhood as police performed a tactical search of Singletary’s home. They also went door to door in the community asking if neighbors had seen him.

Investigators told residents to stay indoors and call 911 if they see anything suspicious.

Singletary was previously accused of hitting his 21-year-old girlfriend in the head with a mini-sledgehammer in December 2022. He was out on bond for that case.

Gaston County police said in Tuesday’s incident, Singletary is charged with four counts of attempted first-degree murder, two counts of assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury, and possession of a firearm by a felon. More charges are likely because of the shots fired into neighbors’ homes.

“We’ll be damn sure to be loud and clear when this case comes to court,” said District Attorney Travis Page.

Police said they had help from U.S. Marshals in the search for Singletary.

The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office processed Singletary and confirmed his identity shortly before 7 p.m. Thursday.

Singletary has a court appearance in Hillsborough County on Friday in reference to extradition back to Gaston County.

This is a developing story Check back for updates.

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