Local News

Robeson principal frustrated over probe into his shooting

Posted July 4, 2009 8:01 p.m. EDT
Updated July 7, 2009 11:33 a.m. EDT

— James Hunt remembers the morning he was shot in the face while on his way to work as principal at Fairmont Middle School.

Hunt was driving along Davis Road around 6:50 a.m. on April 9 when he noticed a pickup truck closing in from behind.

“As it passed on my left side…it took a shot at me with a shotgun,” Hunt said.

The former Marine and father of two never lost control of his Jeep Cherokee, though his windows and his face were shattered.

“My lip at that point was off my face. My finger was dangling by one piece of flesh. My other finger was exploded. My nose was exploded. My tongue was flailing around my mouth,” Hunt said.

Hunt said he began to pray and asked God to forgive him for all of his sins. “I thought I was gonna die,” he said.

Soon, Hunt's military experience kicked-in and he focused on getting medical attention. With his one good hand, he steered his car onto Interstate-95 north and drove 15 miles to Lumberton.

“I had a peace as I was driving to the hospital that everything was gonna be alright,” Hunt said.

Hunt’s hope faded as he reached Carthage Road and his transmission died. Stranded, he began waving for somebody to stop. No one did.

“I began to call on God. I said, ‘Jesus, help this vehicle. I got to make it to the hospital. I need help,’” Hunt said. At that moment, the transmission in the car started and Hunt was back on his way.

Hunt was treated at the emergency room at Southeastern Regional Medical Center and then airlifted to Duke.

Hunt is convinced his shooting was school-related and possibly gang-related.

“There’s no other motive, no other reason, why anyone would want to do this to me,” Hunt said. “Anybody that knows James Hunt knows he’s a man of God. He’s a man of integrity.”

Two days prior to the shooting Hunt said he held a “Stop the Violence” rally at his school.

“I told all the students, I said, ‘If you’re in a gang and they’re telling you you can’t get out, you come to me,’” Hunt said.

After three months and no arrests, Hunt said he is frustrated by the pace of the investigation.

“We fully expected this thing to be settled within a week because it was such a tragic and highly publicized ordeal,” Hunt said.

Concerned about their safety, Hunt and his family have been living out of a hotel room in Durham since the shooting. Expenses are piling up. He was denied worker's compensation because his injuries were not considered work related.

“I need to know that I’m gonna be safe,” Hunt said. ”And as of right now, I’m not assured of that because if I were, I’d be home right now,” Hunt said.

Robeson County Sheriff Kenneth Sealey said his office is looking into several leads in the case and that the State Bureau of Investigation is assisting with the probe.

“It’s been a real difficult case. We want to find out who did this as much as he (Hunt) does," Sealey said.