Florence community mourns man killed in his home

Michael Hawkins

A Florence man who was shot to death in his home is being remembered as someone who cared about his community, especially children.

Florence police say three men forced their way into Michael Hawkins' home on Harmony Street in West Florence to rob him on New Year's Day.

They say he was watching television when the men came in his bedroom and fired three rounds at him. He was hit by two bullets and later died at the hospital. He was 49 years old.

Hawkins' 18-year-old daughter was held at gunpoint in a separate room, but she wasn't hurt.

Investigators say they haven't made any arrests yet.

Those close to Hawkins say he was a great coach, mentor, father and friend.

One of those

friends, Pat Gibson Hye-Moore, headed straight to the hospital after she heard Hawkins' had been shot.

"I was just thinking he was shot. I never thought of him dying. Then I went to the hospital and the doctor came out and said he's still alive but he's not doing well. I'm still like - OK - then they came out and said that he was dead and it really hurt, " said Pat Gibson Hye-Moore.

Moore spent much of her day looking through a scrap book of all their ventures together.

Moore said, " I chose him as a person to give me away when I got married and that was a special task. We've just done so much together throughout the years."

Most of their work together centered around kids.

Moore says Hawkins wanted to help children in East Florence and spent most of his time at Levy Park encouraging teens to stay focused.

"He was really special," said Moore.

Hawkins coached Florence city recreational basketball several years ago.

A few of the men he coached gathered outside his home Monday morning to talk about old times.

They say he was more than just a coach.

"This person was like a father figure to me. I have a father, but when I'm out and about I always knew I could count on Mike for anything, " said John Galbreath.

Galbreath says he learned a lot from Hawkins and it helped him to stay focused.

Galbreath said, "He introduced me to basketball and with basketball that taught me a lot of discipline and he taught me everything that I needed to know about discipline through basketball . You do something wrong it's consequences."

Hawkins' former players and Pat Gibson Hye-Moore want those responsible for his death to be brought to justice.

They have faith police will soon make an arrest.

"I don't know how or where, but they'll get that break," said Moore.

Galbreath said," I believe they will 'cause the chief told us he'll do everything he possibly can to find the person that did this or people responsible."

Hawkins worked with the Florence Police Department's Camp Fever Program, Alliance For Youth, East Florence Community Organization, Florence Parade Committee, and the SC State Guard.

He was a board member on the Florence Parks and Beautification Committee.

Those close to him say Hawkins was best known for his his work with the Levy Park Youth Activity Center. They say he will be dearly missed at the center by the children and staff.