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Robeson principal frustrated over probe into his shooting

Posted July 4, 2009
Updated July 7, 2009

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— James Hunt remembers the morning he was shot in the face while on his way to work as principal at Fairmont Middle School.

Hunt was driving along Davis Road around 6:50 a.m. on April 9 when he noticed a pickup truck closing in from behind.

“As it passed on my left side…it took a shot at me with a shotgun,” Hunt said.

Principal shot while driving on Fairmont road Principal recalls being shot on Fairmont road

The former Marine and father of two never lost control of his Jeep Cherokee, though his windows and his face were shattered.

“My lip at that point was off my face. My finger was dangling by one piece of flesh. My other finger was exploded. My nose was exploded. My tongue was flailing around my mouth,” Hunt said.

Hunt said he began to pray and asked God to forgive him for all of his sins. “I thought I was gonna die,” he said.

Soon, Hunt's military experience kicked-in and he focused on getting medical attention. With his one good hand, he steered his car onto Interstate-95 north and drove 15 miles to Lumberton.

“I had a peace as I was driving to the hospital that everything was gonna be alright,” Hunt said.

Hunt’s hope faded as he reached Carthage Road and his transmission died. Stranded, he began waving for somebody to stop. No one did.

“I began to call on God. I said, ‘Jesus, help this vehicle. I got to make it to the hospital. I need help,’” Hunt said. At that moment, the transmission in the car started and Hunt was back on his way.

Hunt was treated at the emergency room at Southeastern Regional Medical Center and then airlifted to Duke.

Hunt is convinced his shooting was school-related and possibly gang-related.

“There’s no other motive, no other reason, why anyone would want to do this to me,” Hunt said. “Anybody that knows James Hunt knows he’s a man of God. He’s a man of integrity.”

Two days prior to the shooting Hunt said he held a “Stop the Violence” rally at his school.

“I told all the students, I said, ‘If you’re in a gang and they’re telling you you can’t get out, you come to me,’” Hunt said.

After three months and no arrests, Hunt said he is frustrated by the pace of the investigation.

“We fully expected this thing to be settled within a week because it was such a tragic and highly publicized ordeal,” Hunt said.

Concerned about their safety, Hunt and his family have been living out of a hotel room in Durham since the shooting. Expenses are piling up. He was denied worker's compensation because his injuries were not considered work related.

“I need to know that I’m gonna be safe,” Hunt said. ”And as of right now, I’m not assured of that because if I were, I’d be home right now,” Hunt said.

Robeson County Sheriff Kenneth Sealey said his office is looking into several leads in the case and that the State Bureau of Investigation is assisting with the probe.

“It’s been a real difficult case. We want to find out who did this as much as he (Hunt) does," Sealey said.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • thepeopleschamp Jul 7, 2009

    delilahk2000, so the police in who knows where don't know who vandalized your sons house this weekend, so that means the Robeson Sheriff and the SBI don't know what they are doing in this case?

  • chris0628 Jul 7, 2009

    I pray they find the shooter. I just don't understand why someone would seek revenge from a stop the violence rally, at a middle school. That's just not making any sense to me. Just because you're religious, don't mean a thing. Religious people have skeletons too, believe it or not!!

  • panthers254 Jul 7, 2009

    religious or not, the guy needs help. why some of you feel the need to persecute others because of their beliefs is beyond me. i hope that one day you can move past your bitterness.

  • sssh.. whisper Jul 7, 2009

    This man is a customer at my store, and is such a nice guy. It's horrible how someone could be so heartless to shoot another person, much less to shoot a religious and family oriented man. I hope they find the perps fast and soon, and he/she or they deserve to get the max and should have to pay for this man's bills. He and his family are in my thoughts.

  • If the shoe fits.... Jul 7, 2009

    Everyone knows an asistant principal (had to leave the other "s" out of spelling to get this through the filter) is the chief disciplinarian at a school. I agree, don't underestimate a middle school kid. Some are older than you think and have done stints in reform school. This few can be hard sociopaths to the core. Gangs like them as potential leaders and cultivate them. On the surface, without knowing more about this case, I'd guess the perpetrator is a present or past kid he has disciplined and caused to "lose face" among his peers - the ultimate put down. It doesn't have to be gang related to be school related. I don't know how Workman's Comp law reads, but, if there is not another kink to this story, if I were the as't pricipal, I'd have me a lawyer who specializes in Workman's Comp law - if only to push for back pay when the shooting is proven to be work-related.

  • Piratefan Jul 7, 2009

    I know many people in this area and I have not heard anything along those lines. Everyone I know down there believe that it is gang related - 100%.

  • ksh33 Jul 7, 2009

    deathrow - I hear you but don't underestimated a teen. Robeson county is very rural and is a farming and hunting heaven. Kids are in fields with guns after they put the bottle down. By the time you they are 12 or 13 they could be pretty decent marksmen. And you know kids drive long before driver's ed.

  • reijiruo Jul 7, 2009

    hereandnow99, I did say he is a religious man, but that is not my only reason to why the school should help him. I also noted that he is a good man because he is trying to stop gang activity from taking place and try to make society for kids a lot better to live in. Being religious may have led him into being someone better. That's all.

  • ksh33 Jul 7, 2009

    Now I hope what the principal said is true. However, I know several teachers in that county who said it was not gang related but more along the lines of a fatal attraction/affair-gone-bad situation. I truly hope they are wrong and his story is right!

  • FoxtrotUniformCharlieKiloakaCALM Jul 7, 2009

    he's not the only one that suffers a tragedy that seems slow to solve. he needs to be patient, and realize that not all criminals are caught, especially gang-related violence. What we should all learn from this is recognize the signs of gangs or any crime for that matter and get police presence in neighborhoods without screaming "racial/cultural profiling". anyone that boo-hoos about police presence in their neighborhood has a screw loose.