Local News

Parents want answers in Harnett investigation of son's shooting death

Posted January 31

— The parents of a Raleigh man who was shot to death at an Angier home last fall by his father-in-law said Friday that they cannot understand the slow pace of the investigation of the shooting.

Christian Lamar Griggs, 23, was shot by Rev. Pat Chisenhall on Oct. 12 at Chisenhall's home at 11378 N.C. Highway 210 North. No charges have been filed in the case, and neither the Harnett County Sheriff's Office nor the Harnett County District Attorney's Office responded to repeated inquiries from WRAL News about the status of the investigation.

Tony and Dolly Griggs said they kept silent about the case for more than three months to allow Harnett County authorities to do their job. They still haven't received a full explanation of what happened that day, they said, and felt it was time to share their story in an exclusive interview with WRAL News.

Christian Griggs and his wife, Katie, were separated, and he went over to her parents' house that Saturday morning to pick up his daughter for the weekend, his parents said.

"All he was trying to do was be a great dad. That's all he was trying to do," Tony Griggs said.

"Every other weekend he tried to get her he ran into resistance," Dolly Griggs said.

There was a commotion at the house. Someone called 911. Christian Griggs called his father.

Tony Griggs said that he arrived at Chisenhall's house to find his son face-down on the front porch.

"I knew he was hurt bad. I knew he was hurt bad," he said.

Christian Griggs had been shot six times, including several shots in the back, his father said.

"To be shot down by a man he lived with, he prayed with, a man that baptized him...," Tony Griggs said, his voice choked with emotion.

Three weeks before the shooting, Chisenhall baptized Christian Griggs at Abundant Life Worship Center in Angier. Chisenhall served as pastor of the church since he founded it 25 years ago.

Chisenhall said Friday that he doesn't remember much from that day – he was involuntarily committed to a psychiatric hospital after the shooting and continues to receive treatment. He still hasn't returned to his pastoral duties.

He said he does recall that Christian Griggs tried to break into his home and that he saw a rage in his son-in-law had never seen before. He said his daughter was terrified of her estranged husband, and he picked up a rifle and just started firing.

That explanation doesn't satisfy the Griggses.

"How can you defend yourself shooting a man four times in the back? How are you defending property or your home?" Tony Griggs asked. "Did Christian snap? No, Pat Chisenhall snapped. He was the one that was armed that day, not Christian. Christian was there to get his daughter."

The couple said they are frustrated by the lack of answers from investigators.

"At this point, it's justice delayed and not much different, from my perspective, in the way I grieve and the way my heart feels, as justice denied," Tony Griggs said.

6 Comments

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  • hudsonsam Feb 6, 5:58 p.m.

    I'm glad this family spoke out. The other side of the story has been out since the event, what can be the other side when the son-in-law shot four times in the back? Parents lost their son and a daughter to grow up without a father--what the other side of the story?

  • monami Feb 4, 7:18 p.m.

    It's too bad this story was published late Friday afternoon and was down by Sunday night. This deserves exposure to the weekday traffic on wral.com.

    This family deserves answers! Is the sheriff's department doing what should be on, or pushing it under the rug?

  • sweetlyght Feb 3, 9:31 a.m.

    I want answers too.

  • monami Jan 31, 7:46 p.m.

    To the Griggs' family: I was disturbed when I read about this shooting, and worried that an honest investigation might not happen. I am glad you reached out to the media! You deserve answers! This deserves scrutiny. A pastor doesn't get a free pass if the circumstances don't warrant it. I am deeply sorry for your loss.

  • thinkin out loud Jan 31, 7:42 p.m.

    This is very sad all the way around. A young man is dead and his parents left to grieve. A child is now fatherless. A young woman that just wanted a happy family is now a widow and a Pastor is left to struggle with having taken the life of another. Very, very sad

  • swimfreak19 Jan 31, 7:39 p.m.

    Wow.