Robeson County principal shot in face driving to work
Posted April 9, 2009
Updated April 10, 2009
FAIRMONT, N.C. — A Robeson County middle school principal was shot in the face Thursday as he drove to work, authorities said.
Someone shot Fairmont Middle School Principal James Hunt at about 7:30 a.m. near the intersection of Davis and Iona roads, authorities said. The windows on the passenger and driver's side of his vehicle were shot out.
Robeson County Sheriff Kenneth Sealey said investigators don't know if the shooting was random or if Hunt was targeted.
Robeson County Schools Superintendent Johnny Hunt, who isn't related, said James Hunt drove 15 miles after he was shot to Southeastern Regional Medical Center in Lumberton. He was later airlifted to Duke University Hospital in Durham.
The superintendent said James Hunt was alert and sitting up, but couldn't speak clearly because of his injury.
"He was in a lot of pain, lost a lot of blood," Johnny Hunt said. "I didn't try to talk to him. I just said, 'Hang in there. We're praying for you.'"
Duke spokeswoman Lauren Shaftel Williams said the hospital doesn't give out information on patients with gunshot wounds.
James Hunt was able to give investigators some details about the shooting, Sealey said. Investigators were following a few leads and planned to talk to a couple of people described as persons of interest, but they had no evidence linking anyone to the shooting, he said.
"I guess his angels were with him," Sealey said, adding that the principal was "very lucky to be alive."
James Hunt has been at Fairmont Middle for less than a year, but he has already become known as someone trying to make a difference in students' lives.
"I think he's a good person. He has a positive attitude," said Sheneka Wilims, a parent of a Fairmont Middle student.
Johnny Hunt said a pickup truck pulled alongside James Hunt's car, and someone fired a shot through the driver's window.
"There's a hole in his left-side window about the size of your fist, and the window on the right side was shattered," Johnny Hunt said.
"He has a lot of damage to his front part of his face, from the midpoint all the way around," the superintendent said. "He was fortunate, if you can call it being fortunate. He's lucky it didn't hit him in his temple or a few inches back, because I don't think he would have survived that."
Guidance counselors at Fairmont Middle talked to students and staff about the incident, Johnny Hunt said. Some parents who mistakenly thought the shooting occurred at school pulled their children out of class early, he said.
"Hopefully it's not school-related," the superintendent said. "It could be anything. You just don't know. You have to be very careful, even in the field of education."