DANVILLE — Police learned about a triple homicide Friday morning when a 9-year-old boy called 911 shortly after 9 a.m. from the ABC Gold, Games and More pawn shop, Danville police Chief Tony Gray said.
Gray identified two of the victims as Michael Hockensmith, 35, and his wife Angela Hockensmith, 38, both of Lincoln County. Michael Hockensmith was a co-owner of the pawn shop and ran it on a day-to-day basis, and his wife often helped out, friends said.
Gray identified the third person as Daniel P. Smith, 60, of Richmond, who media reports have described as a customer.
"The child reported what he called a robbery and said three people had been shot," Gray said. "The door was locked from the inside, and we had to force entry by breaking glass (of the front door) into the business."
Once inside, police found the boy and a girl about 14 months old, Gray said. Friends have said they were the Hockensmiths' children. The children were in the care of grandparents Friday, Gray said.
Police also found the two men and the woman dead with apparent gunshot wounds, Gray said.
Gray said police are looking for a heavyset white man, 40 to 50 years old, with a pot belly. He was wearing a green camouflage jacket. No one was in custody as of Friday night, Gray said.
The shooter left the store through a garage door and then went through a narrow alley between the pawn shop and Rainbow Cleaners next door, Gray said. That information came from witnesses, Gray said Friday night.
Investigators closely inspected a large sign that had been in the garage for possible fingerprints, Gray said.
Police searched for the shooter much of Friday, prompting lockdowns at Centre College and other places.
Danville police told college officials shortly before noon that they could lift the lockdown, Centre College spokesman Michael Strysick said.
Still, the shooting left residents in the small city "in shock," Danville Mayor Bernie Hunstad told the Herald-Leader.
"We're just so sorry for those families that lost somebody," he said. "It's a tragic event."
Gray said Friday afternoon that he wasn't sure whether there was any video surveillance inside the store. "We've not made our way through the whole facility," he said.
The pawn shop is in a busy commercial district south of downtown Danville. Southbound traffic backed up on one-way South Fourth Street as passersby slowed their vehicles to look at the shooting scene, which was marked with yellow police tape.
Other businesses in the area include an insurance agency, a car rental agency, a car lot, a dry cleaning store and a cigar shop.
"It's a shame, and it's close to home," said David Durham of Danville Motors, across the street.
Jim Gage of James Cigar Co., across the street, said, "I come to this business every day, and I've always felt secure here, and I still feel secure here."
Gage said seeing "a triple murder across the street" is disturbing, but "I still do not feel insecure."
Lee Ann Divine said her husband, Steve Divine, recently became a co-owner with Hockensmith in the pawn shop. Even before that, Divine said, Mike Hockensmith was a manager at the pawn shop, and Angela worked there as well.
Divine said she and the Hockensmiths went to Mitchellsburg Baptist Church in Boyle County, where Michael Hockensmith served as youth minister.
Angela Hockensmith was primarily a stay-at-home mom who homeschooled the couple's children but also worked in the shop, Divine said.
"She was in and out of there constantly," said Divine.
Divine said Angela Hockensmith was often by her husband's side, supporting him whether he was working at the shop or serving as youth minister.
"She was just that kind of person. She was always right there ready to do whatever needed to be done, wherever they were," Divine said.
"They were just wonderful Christian people. You can't find nicer people. They were good parents, wonderful friends, very generous," Divine said. "Everything was looking up for this young family."
David Crowe, pastor of Bruner's Chapel Baptist Church in Harrodsburg, said he had known the Hockensmiths for four years. Crowe said they homeschooled their son Andrew, 9, and that's why he was at the shop Friday. Their daughter Naomi is a toddler, he said. The Hockensmiths had also recently opened their home to a high school exchange student from Taiwan named Lucia Mo, Crowe said.
Hockensmith had attended Clear Creek Bible College in Pineville. Crowe said that Hockensmith and his wife shared their faith with others in a friendly way.
"He had a really good heart. Sometimes if he knew people were real down, he would offer to pray for them. You just don't see people like that. He was just kind of a rarity. ... People knew who he was, I guess, by his faith.''
Martha Propes of Junction City said she bought game consoles from Michael Hockensmith.
"He was a very nice, Christian man. I don't know why anybody would want to hurt him," Propes said. "He was always a very nice person, didn't have anything bad to say about anybody."
The Rev. Garvin Ricco Floyd, pastor of New Life Community Church in Lebanon, said Michael Hockensmith had once served as youth minister for that Church of God congregation of about 85 members.
"He was a wonderful man of God. That's why I don't understand this," Floyd said. "Everybody who knows Mike knows that he would have given it to them. This should never have happened. If this could happen to him, it could happen to anyone. He didn't have an enemy in the world."
While it might seem incongruous for a youth pastor to have a pawn shop, Floyd said Hockensmith used the store as a ministry.
"He loved people and it was a good way of meeting people, and he loved to help people," Floyd said. "It might have been a pawn shop, but yet when you came in there, he was the one talking about the Lord. He gave a lot of people a lot of chances that they wouldn't get anywhere else. So he used it as a ministry platform."
And Floyd said Angela Hockensmith "could sing like a mockingbird."
Can you help?
Anyone who might have seen someone near the ABC Gold, Games & More pawn shop between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. Friday may call the police at (859) 238-1220.