Local Politics

Witness: Soles 'defending his home' in shooting

Posted August 24, 2009 12:26 p.m. EDT
Updated August 24, 2009 7:08 p.m. EDT

— A man who witnessed a state senator shooting an intruder Sunday said Monday that the senator was trying to defend himself.

Sen. R.C. Soles shot Kyle Blackburn in the leg during an altercation at his 118 Canal St. home, Columbus County Sheriff Chris Batten said.

Blackburn was released Monday from Loris Community Hospital in Loris, S.C.

The State Bureau of Investigation is looking into the shooting. No charges have been filed.

Blackburn went to Soles' home with B.J. Wright, who wasn't injured in the incident. It's unclear why they were at the house, but both men were clients of Soles, a longtime Tabor City lawyer.

The Associated Press reported that Blackburn and Wright tried to kick in the front door of Soles' house.

"The senator asked us to leave numerous times. Kyle was a little drunk and using hand gestures like he was going to assault the senator," Wright told Wilmington television station WECT-TV on Monday. "The man was defending his home, property and integrity."

A view of the home from Sky 5 shows tire tracks across the front yard.

WRAL News couldn't reach Soles Monday for comment, but he told WECT that he couldn't say anything because of the SBI investigation.

"I would really like much to give you a statement, but it's under investigation and I should not make any statement to interfere with the investigation," he said.

Raleigh attorney Joe Cheshire, who is representing Soles in the case, echoed Wright's contention that the shooting was a case of self-defense. He said the shooting was recorded by security cameras at the residence.

Soles reported the incident directly to Tabor City Police Chief Donald Dowless and never called 911.

"He told me there had been an incident at his residence and he needed police there," Dowless said.

Soles has had a series of confrontations with former law clients in the past two years, according to The Associated Press. He called for help from local police at least nine times to ward off men who were charged with trespassing.

Blackburn, 22, was charged last September with attempted breaking and entering and first-degree trespassing, but the charges were dropped.

Wright, 23, was released two weeks ago from Bladen Correctional Center after serving more than two years for larceny and possession of stolen goods. He previously was convicted of assault with a deadly weapon.

Soles gave Wright more than $8,000 while he was in prison, according to WWAY-TV in Wilmington.

The senator is known around Tabor City area for providing young men with cash to buy cars and homes. He has dismissed questions about the practice, saying he gives money to countless people in need, not just troubled young men.

"There are plenty of other people who have been friends of mine I've helped over the years," he told WRAL News recently.

The 74-year-old also is the subject of a separate SBI investigation prompted by an allegation that he tried to fondle a man more than a decade ago.

Stacey Scott, 27, said in a television interview two weeks ago that Soles tried grab his genitals when Scott was 15. WWAY taped the interview a year ago.

A few days after the interview aired, Scott recanted the allegation. He said he had taken drugs on the day he was interviewed and said his mother urged him to make the allegation but couldn't remember why she did.

Soles said he was glad Scott acknowledged he made up the story.

The Democrat, who represents Columbus, Brunswick and Pender counties, is the longest-serving member of the General Assembly. He has spent 32 years in the Senate and was in the House for eight years before that.