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Shots Fired into Hoke Sheriff's Home

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RAEFORD — The investigation is under way into who fired shots into three Hoke County buildings over the weekend; now graffiti has also been discovered.

Someone fired more than two dozen shots into the home of Hoke County Sheriff Wayne Byrd Saturday night. Shots were also fired into the campaign headquarters of Jim Davis, who recently successfully ran against Byrd for the sheriff's post, and into the dental office of Davis' campaign manager. No one was injured.

The graffiti was found scrawled on the exterior wall of the Raeford City Hall, which also houses the police department.

It said: "What up now, sheriff? Bang. Down with whitey."

Byrd says after the latest threat, he lives in constant fear.

"I've been terrified since I walked into my house Saturday night and saw the whole place shot up," Byrd said.

Byrd wasn't home at the time of the shooting. But some of the bullets landed in a room where Byrd used his computer.

"Had I been here, I would've been there and that's the scary thing," Byrd said.

Byrd had been in Greensboro and on coming home shortly after 9 p.m. he said he counted 28 bullet holes in the windows and walls. Some pierced a wall just inches above his bed.

Byrd thinks that someone with a high-powered assault rifle probably fired from the road.

Now he fears for his family's safety.

"We spend a lot of time making sure the people in this county feel safe in their homes," Byrd said. "I'm the chief law enforcement officer in the county, and I don't feel safe now."

Byrd had left lights on, and cars were in his driveway, so that the house would look occupied while he was out of town. Byrd's home is in a rural area with no neighbors nearby. There are no known witnesses to the shooting.

Byrd believes the shooting is connected to the recent sheriff's race.

"I'd hate to think it had to do with the election, but that's the only thing that's going on right now," he said.

Jim Davis won the sheriff's race, but he cannot be sworn in until the State Board of Elections investigates claims that he campaigned illegally.

Half a dozen shots were also fired into the Davis campaign headquarters Saturday night. A few blocks away, even more bullets were fired into the dental office of Mark Thompson, who ran Davis' campaign.

Thompson does not think that's a coincidence.

"Somebody's just trying to start something, trying to add fuel to the racial tensions that are already here," Thompson said. "I'm glad no one got hurt."

Attempts to reach Davis for an interview have been unsuccessful but Sunday afternoon a statement was released in his name, in which he is quoted as exhorting Hoke County residents "not to fall prey to violence but to remain calm and let local and federal law enforcement do their jobs."

Byrd believes that whoever fired these shots did mean to hurt him -- and possibly to end the debate over who should run Hoke County.

"I honestly believe if they were trying to frighten me, they would've just shot the house rather than the only room in the house that had the lights on," Byrd said.

The state elections board is expected to rule in January on the campaign allegations against Jim Davis.

Byrd said he will serve until the state's decision is made.

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Michael Joyner, Photographer
Kay Miller, Web Editor

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