Father, son deaths at Salem Lake ruled murder-suicide


Charles Timothy Nichols, Jr.

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -- Investigators have ruled the the death of a father and son at Salem Lake Park on Wednesday a murder-suicide, according to police.

Police determined the father and son met at Salem Lake. At some point Charles Timothy Nichols, Jr., 29, shot Charles Timothy Nichols, 58, prior to shooting himself.

Nichols, Jr.'s mother, Janet Nichols, spoke to FOX8 Thursday, saying, "Charlie was defending me when it all happened. A couple of days before, my husband hurt me and my son found out and was upset. Charlie always stood up for me."

Friends of Nichols, Jr. are defending his mother's statement.

“He loved his family he loved his mom," said Scotty Newsom, Charles Nichols, Jr.’s friend. "It was just inconceivable that he would do something just for spite to hurt somebody."

The ongoing investigation into this case revealed that there had been incidents of domestic violence within the family.

The Medical Examiner’s office confirmed that Charles Timothy Nichols died after being shot multiple times and Charles Timothy Nichols, Jr. died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Police responded to 1001 Salem Lake Road around 11:24 a.m. Wednesday in reference to the shooting.

Upon arrival, officers found the two men deceased in a gravel parking lot about 400 yards from the entrance to Salem Lake.

It remains unclear if there were any witnesses to the shooting. Assistant Police Chief Connie Southern said they do not believe anyone else was in danger when the shooting occurred.

According to Southern, other weapons were found at the scene but did not provide any additional information about the weapons.

The lake is a popular spot for bikers and runners.

"We were going to do a loop," said Carly Kreber, whose Wednesday evening run got cut short. "[Police] stopped us on the other side."

"I'm still going to probably keep coming out here," said runner Robert Yountz. "I'm a runner so I'm always going to have to come out here and get the fitness in."

“Two Winston-Salem Police Officers are assigned as Park Rangers and visit Salem Lake Park every day as part of their regular duties," said Winston-Salem Recreation and Parks Director, Timothy Grant. "They patrol Salem Lake, but they also visit many other parks on their daily rounds. We recognize this is a tragic event, but it is not the norm. We strive to ensure that Salem Lake Park, and all of our parks, offer a safe recreational environment for our citizens.”

No other information is available at this time.

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