By Leonard E. Colvin
Chief Reporter Emeritus
New Journal and Guide
Two days after he was fatally shot trying to break up a dispute in front of the Triple C Convenience store on Lindenwood Avenue, three people were arrested and charged with the death of its owner, 84-year-old James Carter.
On Tuesday, January 2, his family, neighbors and friends showed up at the Metropolitan Funeral Services on Granby Street to say goodbye to him.
According to the Norfolk Police Department, (NPD) a manhunt led to 42-year-old Dennis Hisle being charged with second-degree murder, malicious wounding, and two counts of use of a firearm. Forty-year-old Bruce Hisle was also charged with possession of a firearm by a felon and possession of ammunition by a felon, and 41-year-old Tamika Credle was charged with accessory after the fact.
Carter’s daughter, Georgia, revealed that her father was fatally struck on December 20 as he was coming back into the store after telling the group to leave.
The ongoing investigation into who these people are and why their dispute caused such a tragic incident is continuing.
Meanwhile, the city, and specifically the community of Lindenwood, and the region applauded the arrest of the three linked to the untimely death of Carter, who was deemed a generous, outgoing community icon.
Outside the small convenience store he presided over for the past decade, there is a vast decorative memorial of flowers, candles, balloons, and other items indicating the community’s respect and love for Carter.
At night, the colorful memorial intermixed with the traditional decorative Christmas lights residents of Lindenwood adorned their homes with this time of year.
The deadly event darkened the festive mood of the community. On a mild Christmas Eve at sunset, the hundreds of residents joined people from all over the city and region in one of the largest candlelight vigils organized this year in front of the “Triple C” convenience store on Lindenwood Avenue,
Along with family and friends, Norfolk Mayor Kenneth C. Alexander recalled the life of Mr. Carter and noted his legacy as a mentor and private businessman, a man people respected.
Called “Pop” by family and friends who knew him, Carter was called the “Grandfather of Norfolk.”
Kevin Carter, the deceased man’s oldest son, said it’s difficult to put into words what his father meant to him.
“I’m really hurting on the inside, and I try to be strong, and I try to stay strong for my brothers and sisters,” Kevin said.
He also called the loss devastating and unnecessary.
“My father got shot down breaking up an argument,” he said. “He put himself in front of his customers so nobody else could get hurt.”
“He was a family man,” Georgia Carter said. “He was a hardworking individual. He would give his heart out to a lot of people,” she said.
Carter had attended the annual joint Lindenwood/Barraud Park and Cottage Heights Civic Christmas Social just eight days before his death. Hosted by the League’s Executive Board at Mt. Olive Baptist Church, it took place a few blocks from his small white-brick building, which housed his convenience store.
During the event, the President of the Civic League acknowledged Carter’s attendance, which triggered a round of loud applause.
Rev. Howard LeMell, one of the Board members, sat next to Carter during the event. He said he recalls Carter from the late 1960s. LeMall was a young Navy man who had just gotten married and lived in the Highland Park section of Norfolk.
Lamell recalled that Carter operated the 1400 Club at 38th and Parker Streets in Lambert’s Point, a favorite and lively watering hole of civilians and servicemen alike.
LeMell, now 77, and his wife, Lillian, are on the Board. He said Carter’s small store was the only convenience store in Lindenwood proper.
“He was an institution in Norfolk and especially Lindenwood,” said LeMell, a native of Texas, a pastor, and a retired electrician. “He was a businessman and would help anyone, young and old, and people he did not know. It is so sad and tragic the way he died. He will be missed.”
A Norfolk native, Carter, who lived in the Poplar Hall area from Norfolk, was a retired railroad breakman. He also was a Longshoreman at one point in his life.
During the Social, Carter sat between LeMell and another Board member, Irene Pitchford, a longtime resident of Barraud Park.
Like many others, Pitchford recalled Carter’s long history as an entrepreneur, how she frequently patronized his Merrimac Market on Norchester Avenue in the Broad Creek section of Norfolk to buy meat and other items.
“I was hurt and shocked when I heard about James,” said Pitchford, a former Norfolk City employee. “He was having such a good time at our Christmas Social. That was the last time I sat and talked with him.”
“If anyone needed help, you could rely on James,” said Pitchford. “He was a generous, thoughtful, and kind man. They don’t make them like James Carter anymore.”
“A few people complained about it at times. But James had the only store in Lindenwood,” she continued. “He had some of everything like bobby pins. They are hard to find. If he did not have it, James Carter would have gone out and found it. He loved his customers, and they loved him. He will be missed.”
Norfolk Councilperson John “JP” Paige, (Ward 4) does not represent Lindenwood on council. But he recalls that Carter gave him and a rap group he performed for their first big break at a club he owned called the Casablanca in Norfolk in 1984.
“He was an incredible individual, and businessman who stayed in our community and served our community,” Paige said. “Many people found their way because of him. I recall many families went into Merrimac Market to get food to feed their families and Mr. Carter helped them. He will be missed and loved.”