Huddle House Survivor Talks to 12

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December 15, 2005
Investigators are now offering a reward for information in North Augusta’s triple shooting. They have been looking for a man matching this sketch following several leads over the past three weeks. More than a hundred leads came in during the first week, but so far, none of them have turned up anything. Investigators will not say exactly how much the reward is, but they say it is “significant.” That reward is made up of donations from Little Horse Creek Baptist Church in Graniteville. Their pastor, Reverend Earl Carter, was a victim of the shootings.

Only on 12, Reverend Carter talks for the first time about how he escaped death, not once, but twice. Reverend Carter was on his way to breakfast at the North Augusta Huddle House with friends. But the shots fired that morning changed several lives forever.

Three weeks after the shooting, Reverend Carter has just started speaking again with help from a device in his throat. He calls his survival a gift from God.

“I didn’t think I was gonna make it, I sure didn’t,” Carter said.

That’s why Reverend Earl Carter has a new outlook on life.

“Friends and neighbors and church family, those are the most important things in the world,” Carter said.

This year’s artificial Christmas tree takes the place of the one the Carter family usually cuts down in the mountains. The Reverend is thankful for his family, taking care of him and changing the bandages that cover the bullet hole in his shoulder. A hold he describes as the size of a grapefruit.

“God guided that bullet so it wouldn’t mess up my windpipe, and it didn’t hit my vertebrae and it didn’t tear out my bone,” Carter said.

He was on his way to a daily tradition, breakfast with friends at the Huddle House.

The first think Reverend Carter heard when he got out of his car is, “Lookout, they’ve got a gun.” He tried to hide from the gunman in the Huddle House parking lot, but in the process, he fell underneath the wheel of his friend Billy Powell’s truck. And he almost got backed over.

“The guy got in the pickup and tried to crank the truck and just by the grace of God he couldn’t crank it. I didn’t get very far before he shot me,” Carter said.

His very next memory…

“Waking up in the hospital,” Carter said.

Where he spent two weeks. Now he’s home again, able to walk and talk. But he needs an oxygen machine to breathe. And he hopes his doctor will change his liquid diet.

“If I could have my pick today, I’d have a hamburger and French fries,” Carter said.

It may be a while for that and other things he loves, like preaching. Worth it to him for the gift he has in return.

“I prayed God would spare me and I knew when God did he would have a special work for me to do,” Carter said.

A message of love and strength that he’ll be able to share for the rest of his life. As for the group that meets at the Huddle House, Reverend Carter says they will keep getting together as soon as he’s well.