Education

Former Robeson principal still seeks justice

Posted April 4, 2012

— Three years after he was shot in the face while heading to school, a former Robeson County principal is still trying to put his life back together.

James Hunt was driving to Fairmont Middle School on April 9, 2009, when a pickup truck pulled alongside his Jeep Cherokee and someone fired a shotgun at him. The blast shattered his mouth and nose, but he was able to drive 15 miles to a Lumberton hospital for help.

"I should be dead today," Hunt, 39, said Wednesday as he sat in the living room of his Lumberton home.

No one has ever been charged in the shooting, and Lt. Dru Martin of the Robeson County Sheriff's Office said there are few leads, despite a $10,000 reward offered for information leading to an arrest.

“Over the last seven or eight months, it’s been sort of idle,” Martin said. “It’s frustrating for nothing to come up, very frustrating.”

Hunt said he remains convinced that his anti-gang activity at Fairmont Middle was the reason for the shooting, noting that he had previously received death threats.

"I know – I don't think, I don't wonder if – I know that what happened to me is directly related to my role as a school administrator, as a principal," he said.

Despite that, Robeson County Schools officials maintained that taxpayers shouldn't have to pay Hunt any compensation because the shooting happened while he was away from school property.

"I was left out there all alone to fend for myself," Hunt said. "One thing I don't understand (is) why it's been such a harassment."

Former Fairmont Middle School Principal James Hunt Web only: Wounded principal frustrated with Robeson school district

The state Industrial Commission, which handles worker's compensation cases, ruled in Hunt's favor twice in 2010, but the school district appealed both times, sending the case to the state Court of Appeals.

The court ruled unanimously Tuesday that he was eligible for $781 a week for each week he has been out of work since the shooting.

The appellate judges noted, among other facts, that Hunt was driving to school and talking with a school employee on his school-issued cell phone when he was shot.

Assistant Superintendent DeRay Cole declined to comment on Hunt's case Wednesday, referring all questions to the state Attorney General's office, which also had no comment.

James Hunt, former Fairmont Middle School principal Fight for pay over, but fight for justice continues for wounded principal

Hunt has received disability payments since he resigned, but he said his family has had to scrape by financially without any worker's compensation.

"I'm a strong family man. I'm a strong Christian man. So, I had these resources, these helps, in place, and yes, there were times someone had to lend a helping hand to make the ends meet," he said.

He has undergone several reconstructive surgeries since the shooting, and while the former Marine and father of two might be physically strong, he said he's not prepared mentally to return to work.

"I'm not in a state of mind to go back and do what I used to do," he said.

Just as he was determined to continue fighting for the worker's compensation award, Hunt said he's not giving up on an arrest in his shooting.

"My case is going to be solved," he said. "I will not rest until I have closure (and) whoever did this – one or two – is brought to justice."

19 Comments

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  • zoovp Apr 5, 2012

    Wow, I think about my job a lot. I am on the phone a lot talking about work. If somebody drives a car into my house while I'm talking about work or even conducting work business I don't expect you, the taxpayer, to pay me for it.

  • Tarheel born Apr 5, 2012

    This is a tragic story and the person involved, or people, should go to jail for the rest of their lives for what they did. My son is a Marine so I usually sympathize with Marines, but this guy is NOT entitled to compensation just because he was injured driving to his job. He wasn't at school, he was driving to school! I'm sorry, but this is like so many other tragic incidents that happen in this country and then those affected expect compensation from somebody. Where does everyone think that money is coming from? It's coming from me, the taxpayer. Why am I responsible for you being shot? Its awful for you and your family but it's not my fault and I shouldn't be asked to continually pay for this stuff.
    zoovp

    Certainly glad YOU are in the "minority" here. He was on his way to work conducting school business. HE IS ENTITLED to workmans compensation. And now he should SUE the County and the BOD.

    NOW, the people of Robeson County should all be ashamed that the attempted murderers are sti

  • dryjr Apr 5, 2012

    Shame on you Robeson County

  • schooldoctor Apr 5, 2012

    This man served his country in the Marine Corps, served his community as an educator and now we want to throw the baby out with the bath water. It is such a shame that we allow these things to go on in our communities. No amount of money will adequately ever compensate this man and his family for what they have endured. PAY UP!! If he was their family member the vote would be different.

  • nanasix Apr 5, 2012

    Sounds like those on the school board/Supt. don't know the law. For them to fight this mans case when he was enroute to work, which is always covered. Worker's Comp., knew this and did the right thing. To punish this man like they've done is wrong. Think of the legal fees they've wasted that could have been supporting a good caring employee. What they've done is absolutely wrong. He should be paid every dime due him, plus pain and suffering caused not only by the injuries, but by the cities actions to deprive he and his family what he was due.

  • dollibug Apr 4, 2012

    It is a good thing that the NC Industrial Commission approved that this man got paid....perhaps they knew it would be something that would get picked up by the media....I was wrongfully denied workers compensation and I had short term and long term disability also and the company I worked for also made sure that I did not get that either...it is interesting how some things just happen....here is hoping that perhaps the NC Industrial Commission will review ALL CLAIMS carefully and not just selected ones.....interesting that one would think the process would be equal for all....

  • venitapeyton Apr 4, 2012

    During the interview, Mr. Hunt didn't want his face shown. Although it was already out there, is there any need to show it now?

  • due_whats_right Apr 4, 2012

    Eyeontheprize- dont expect to get a rational answer from irrational posters. Those types of comments serve no purpose other than to incite more negativity!

  • eoglane Apr 4, 2012

    naacp more racist then the klan, good comment

  • itsmyownopinion Apr 4, 2012

    ...Where does everyone think that money is coming from? It's coming from me, the taxpayer. Why am I responsible for you being shot? Its awful for you and your family but it's not my fault and I shouldn't be asked to continually pay for this stuff.

    zoovp

    Did you read the story? "The appellate judges noted, among other facts, that Hunt was driving to school and talking with a school employee on his school-issued cell phone when he was shot."

    It appears to me that he was already on the job. BTW, do you even live in Robeson County?

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