BATTLE CREEK, Mich. – The man suspected of stabbing a mother of three and gas station employee to death on the job was officially charged with murder Thursday.
Battle Creek Police say 30-year-old Shawn Pike killed 27-year-old Nicole Gates as she was finishing her shift Tuesday night at the Citgo gas station near West Michigan Avenue and Hussey Avenue.
She had only been working there since early July.
On Thursday, Pike was charged with felony murder and being a habitual offender. Investigators say the motive was robbery, stealing cash, cigarettes, beer, lottery tickets and her car.
Dustin Hartman also was charged Thursday for being an accessory after the fact. In court he said he was “forced to do those things.”
Gates’ parents were in court. Her mom, Wendy, says she sat at the end of the row because she didn’t want to see Pike’s face.
“I heard his voice and that was more than I could handle. He’s destroyed our family, he’s destroyed her kids’ lives. They’re going to live the rest of their lives with no mother.”
Gates’ dad, Ronald, said she had a big heart.
“Everybody that knew Nicole loved Nicole. She never had a bad word to say about people and no one had a bad word to say about her,” he said.
Her parents say she just started the job a few weeks ago. They say she knew Pike but had only met him a few times.
“She loved that job. The day she brought home her first paycheck from there she waved it around, danced around the house, so proud she was finally going to be able to do things for her kids,” Wendy said.
This isn’t the first time Pike has been in trouble with law. He just got out of prison in 2012 for assault with intent to commit sexual conduct. Gates’ dad says he should have never been let of prison and called him a coward for what he did.
Tara Parker was also in the courtroom. She says she happened to be with Pike by chance early Wednesday morning when she says her friend got a call that Pike needed a ride to a hotel. Parker says Pike told them he got in a fight with a supposed girlfriend and she ended up driving Nicole Gates’ car and dropping it off somewhere else.
She says she didn’t learn the truth until later.
“After we got to the hotel he asked me how it felt to drive a person’s car he just murdered and he continued to tell me what he did to her,” she said.
Parker said Pike told her he robbed the place because he had nothing to lose. Parker says as Pike described what he did it was like he was bragging about it and she didnt want to believe him. She says he told her he “made sure she was dead.”
She says she tried to get as much as evidence as she could, left and got in touch with police.
“I don’t even know this man, but what I do know is I’m going to make sure I’m there for the family every step of the way and make sure he is convicted,” she said.
On Thursday people continued to drop off flowers outside the gas station. Gates’ parents say they plan to hold a vigil there at 8 p.m. Sunday and are working to set up a fund for her kids.
They say Gates should never have been working alone at night and support proposed legislation to make sure two employees are always working at convenience stores.