Local Politics

Shooting victim says lawmaker buys people's silence

A man who was shot last summer by Sen. R.C. Soles said Tuesday that the Democratic lawmaker has paid him more than $100,000 over the last seven years.

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WHITEVILLE, N.C. — A man who was shot last summer by Sen. R.C. Soles said Tuesday that the Democratic lawmaker has paid him more than $100,000 over the last seven years.

In an interview with WRAL News, Kyle Blackburn, 23, discussed the shooting at Soles' home and his relationship with Soles, a Tabor City lawyer who has served in the General Assembly for 40 years.

Soles' law office referred all questions to his Raleigh attorney, Joe Cheshire.

"They are conducting a media campaign that contradicts Mr. Blackburn's conduct in the criminal investigation and appears designed to harm Sen. Soles," Cheshire said in a statement. "It wasn't right on Aug. 23, 2009, and it is not right today."

Blackburn, a former legal client of Soles who has been convicted of felony breaking and entering, said Soles has for years given him and other men cash.

"He doesn't help anybody and everybody. He helps people who know something about him, something he doesn't want told. He'll give them whatever they ask for to keep them quiet," Blackburn said.

The State Bureau of Investigation is looking into allegations that Soles fondled a 27-year-old Columbus County man more than a decade ago. After making the claim in a television interview, the man recanted.

Blackburn said he was never molested, but he said Soles has assaulted him in the past.

"He kicked me right upside the head with some little, pointy elf shoes," he said.

Last Aug. 23, Blackburn said he, his girlfriend and buddy B.J. Wright went to Soles house because Wright needed some money. He said nobody answered the door, so they hung out on a pier at the lake behind Soles' house until Blackburn's girlfriend spotted Soles peering out of a window.

"B.J. came knocking on the door, hooping and hollering. He still wouldn't come to the door," Blackburn said, noting that Wright then drove his SUV around in Soles' front yard.

"Here comes B.J. and just karate kicks the door. I said, 'OK, Lord don't do that. Mr. Soles is going to kill both of us,'" Blackburn said.

Soles finally opened the door and fired a shot, Blackburn said. As he ran away, he was shot in the back of his leg.

"I froze up, and I couldn't move," he said. "He's steady, holding the gun on me, shaking."

Soles, 75, has always maintained he was protecting himself and his property in the shooting. A Columbus County grand jury indicted him in January on a charge of assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury, but he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge in the case and paid a $1,000 fine.

Cheshire noted in his statement that Blackburn and Wright agreed to the plea deal because they didn't want Soles prosecuted.

Still, Blackburn said he was speaking out to set the record straight about the incident.

"R.C. said I was kicking his door. I never kicked his door," he said.

Since the shooting, Blackburn said, he hasn't spoken to Soles. He said he considers their relationship over, and he plans to sue the lawmaker over the shooting.

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Bryan Mims, Reporter
Michael Joyner, Photographer
Matthew Burns, Web Editor

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