GASTONIA, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — A man was shot and killed by a person living in a tent at a Gastonia church Sunday afternoon, according to the police department.

Freddie Lee Byrd, 57, of Gastonia, was identified as the man killed. Donald Ray Beatty, 56, of Gastonia, is being held at the Gaston County Jail and was charged with the following:

  • First-degree murder
  • Firearm by felon

Beatty has a criminal history in Gaston County. Records show he was arrested in June 2023 on charges of felony indecent liberties with a child. His bond was set at $200,000 at that time.

The deadly incident happened around 3 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 20, at Faith Hope Love on the 400 block of North Oakland Street. Police say they responded to a shooting at the church and, upon arrival, found Byrd suffering a gunshot wound to the chest.

Byrd was pronounced deceased at the scene.

Authorities say an investigation revealed both men lived at Faith, Hope, and Love Ministries in neighboring tents, got into an argument, and Beatty shot Byrd.