The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC

October 10, 2013

Pastor charged with killing 3 at Ky. pawn shop


CNHI News Service

SOMERSET, Ky. — A pastor from a small Kentucky town is accused of killing the husband-and-wife owners of a pawn shop and one of their customers, all while the owners' children were nearby.

Kenneth Allen Keith, 48, is the pastor of Main Street Baptist Church in Burnside, Ky., as well as owner of another pawn shop in nearby Somerset. He was arrested at his shop Wednesday night and charged with three counts of murder and one count of first-degree robbery, police said.

Police say Keith entered the ABC Gold, Games and More shop in Danville – about 40 miles north of Somerset – on Sept. 20 and killed Michael Hockensmith, 35; his wife, Angela Hockensmith, 38; and Daniel Smith, 60.

Police said the Hockensmiths' children, a 9-year-old boy and 1-year-old girl, were in the store when the shooting happened but were unharmed. The 9-year-old called 911.

Michael Hockensmith's brother, Tony Hockensmith, told the Lexington Herald-Leader that Keith was his brother's former pastor, as well as the previous owner of the pawn shop where the shooting happened.

"Everybody's in shock. He (Keith) was at the funeral," Tony Hockensmith told the paper.

Police said Keith had "intimate knowledge" of the shooting, according to an arrest warrant obtained by the Herald-Leader.

Keith knew the number of gunshot wounds one of the victims suffered, as well as details about the robbery, according to the warrant. Witnesses described seeing a man who looked like Keith leaving the pawn shop around the time of the shooting, and nearby surveillance cameras captured images of a vehicle that looked like Keith's silver 2008 Dodge Caravan, the warrant said.

After Keith's arrest at his Gold Rush Gold Buyers shop Wednesday night, investigators were seen searching the business and removing documents. Police also searched Keith's home near the church in Burnside.

Burnside Mayor Ron Jones said he didn't know Keith but was shocked to hear the news about the arrest of a spiritual leader in his community.

"You expect more out of a minister than you would your average person walking down the street," said Jones.

Keith appeared to express sadness over the slayings on his Facebook page a day after the shootings.

"No sleep at all, I am just in shock right now over this loss of three great people. We never know what is coming on the next breeze so breath [sic] deep the breath God gives you now," he wrote.

Details for this story were reported by The Commonwealth Journal in Somerset, Ky., and The Herald-Leader in Lexington, Ky.