Man heads to prison after murdering woman in front of crowd in Gastonia

GASTONIA, N.C. — A man has been sentenced to prison for murdering a woman in front of a crowd in Gastonia.

Shiquan Ratchford pleaded guilty Wednesday to second-degree murder and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. He was sentenced to at least 25 years in prison.

On Dec. 2, 2022, Ratchford and a few friends, including victim Megan Tate, gathered to talk at an apartment on Spring Valley Drive in Gastonia. Ratchford got into a heated argument with one of the friends and Tate jumped in to defuse the situation.

“She was trying to get between them. Trying to separate them and cause this argument to end,” said prosecutor Kristen Northrop.

Investigators said Ratchford stepped away, but returned with a gun and shot Tate in the head. He did it in a room full of witnesses who included a 4-year-old.

Ratchford ran from the scene while on Facebook Live, begging for someone to pick him up.

“Livestreamed himself holding the firearm, stating, ‘someone needs to come pick me up. I just killed someone,’” Northrop said.

In court Wednesday, Tate’s loved ones said justice is finally served. They said her death while trying to break up an argument says a lot about her.

Tate’s loved ones wore shirts that each had a picture of her.

“She’s very beautiful. You see that smile on her face,” her cousin Erin Sanders said.

“It was tragic. She didn’t deserve it,” said Tate’s sister, Jessica Tate.

Tate’s family said Ratchford’s sentencing brings them some closure.

“Today, it means a lot for us,” said her cousin, Teira Bryd.

Ratchford’s attorney said he suffered from untreated mental health issues, though he was deemed fit to stand trial.

“There is no doubt in my mind that something snapped in his head on that day and this is not a normal part of his character,” she said.

Ratchford didn’t want the hearing happen. He asked the judge for a new attorney but the judge didn’t agree with his reasons.

Ratchford then decided to move forward with the plea.

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