Deputies: Man killed friend in spray of gunfire

By Corey Friedman and William R. Toler

August 25, 2014

ROCKINGHAM — Sheriff’s deputies have charged a man with murder in the Monday shooting death of a 49-year-old Richmond County man.

Robert David Erby II, 40, of 103 Jayson St. outside Rockingham, is accused of killing Michael Gene Cain early Monday morning in a spray of gunfire inside Erby’s home.

Sheriff James E. Clemmons Jr. said the men were acquaintances and had been hanging out at Erby’s home since Sunday evening. Deputies said they got in an argument and Erby shot up the home, fatally wounding Cain.

Erby is charged with an open count of murder and is being held without bond in the Richmond County Detention Center. His first court appearance is scheduled for Sept. 4.

The killing is Richmond County’s first homicide of 2014 and the most recent since 2012.

Deputies arrived at the Jayson Street house in the Cordova community after 911 dispatchers reported a shooting at the address. They found Erby inside and discovered Cain’s body, Detective Lt. Keith Mabe wrote in an affidavit of probable cause filed to obtain a search warrant for the home.

“Erby was in the doorway between the front room and the kitchen and Cain was in the front room on his knees leaning against a cabinet that appeared to be an entertainment center with apparent gunshot wounds to his body,” Mabe wrote. “Also, leaning against the couch with the barrel down was a semi-automatic rifle with a wood stock. The scene was secured and detectives were notified to investigate and process the scene.”

Cain lived at 245 Ledbetter St., about a mile away from Erby’s home. Neither man has a record of criminal convictions in North Carolina or had pending charges in Richmond County.

Detectives seized a Plainfield Machine Co. .30-caliber carbine M1 rifle and a Springfield .45-caliber handgun from Erby’s home, according to an inventory of seized items filed with the search warrant. Investigators recovered a live bullet from the rifle, six live bullets from the floor and six spent shell casings.

Also listed in the inventory were three bullet fragments recovered from inside a DVD case in a bookshelf, the hallway wall and the floor of the bedroom.

The search warrant signed by Magistrate J.B. Searcy gave deputies permission to collect evidence from Erby’s home, any and all outbuildings and three vehicles parked outside the house: A 2007 Toyota Tacoma and 1999 Jeep Wrangler registered to Erby and a 2008 Dodge Avenger registered to Cain.

The motive remained under investigation Monday afternoon. Deputies said Cain’s body will be taken to the N.C. Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Raleigh today for an autopsy.

Erby’s father died Aug. 20 and his memorial service was Saturday, two days before the killing. The elder Erby is listed as owner of the Jayson Street home in Richmond County tax records. Neighbors said his son had been staying there for the past few days.

Several neighbors said they didn’t hear any gunshots, but noticed deputies arriving at the home just before 1 a.m.

Reach Editor Corey Friedman at 910-817-2670 and reporter William R. Toler at 910-817-2675.