Special Assignment: Huddle House Shootings One Year Later

By: Meredith Taylor
By: Meredith Taylor

November 22, 2006

Three local families have spent the past year trying to move on with their lives.

One year ago today, a masked gunman went on a shooting rampage close to I-20 in North Augusta.

Three people were shot. 1 of them died. And the shooter is still on the loose.

For the first time, in exclusive interview, the first victim, Constance Davidson, tells her story.

"When he fired the first shot, I remember thinking, He's shooting at me. Then when he fired the second shot, I felt it hit me."

Connie Davidson would spend the next year of her life praying about what happened November 22, 2005.

Sunrise brought with it gunshots, a chaotic search, and news of a local man shot to death.

"I didn't actually look and see the gun. I just realized he was holding one because I just looked straight into his eyes."

It was Connie who was first approached by the masked gunman in the Burger King drive thru near I-20 in North Augusta.

After refusing to give him her car, ducking, and driving away, she was shot in the back.

"I just had no thought," she said. "I just drove."

She'd learn moments later, while getting help from an EMT at a nearby CITGO, that the wail of sirens meant the shooter wasn't finished.

"I said, 'Are there other people that got shot?' He said yes. I said, 'Are they okay?' And he said, 'I don't know.'"

The answer would turn out to be shocking for the whole community. The gunman had crossed the street, meeting two more people in the Huddle House parking lot--shooting both of them too.

It was the place where a group of good friends called the "Board of Directors" met every morning…but Rev. Earl Carter and his friend Bill Powell never got to go inside the Huddle House.

Powell was killed when he was shot in the face with an assault rifle. The pastor was critically injured.

And the gunman still wasn't done. He went to Bojangles next door and took a woman's car--no gunfire this time.

In the coming months, there would be no more meetings...just a road of recovery.

"I pray for him every day, I'm talking about every day," Rev. Carter said during his recovery.

And today, left with one working vocal cord, his message is still very much the same.

"I do try to remember to pray for him each day. In my heart I've forgiven him and I just hope he'll be apprehended."

Inside the doors of North Augusta Public Safety, there's proof that investigators hope they'll find the right lead soon…

A wanted poster for the gunman has been up for a year, but so far there have only been hundreds of dead end leads.

"Our investigative team obviously wants to remain optimistic, but the reality of it is…over the past year, our overwhelming amount of info we've gotten has not panned out," Det. Tim Thornton told News 12.

A lot can happen in a year. The victims of this brutal crime have tried to move on.

Connie still feels guilt.

"You can't help but think what if you'd gotten out of the car? Them other 2 people would have been okay."

"And we're not going to have those times anymore," Rev. Carter said of his lost friend. "We're not going to be able to eat together. We're not going to be able to pick at one another, cut up with one another, fish with one another."

The close-knit friendship that was once witnessed inside the Huddle House is just a memory.

"Most of them don't go to the Huddle House anymore," Rev. Carter said.

What's left of the group keeps on driving to a fresh start up the road.

"Our lives will be changed forever."

It's a change in routine, and, for some, getting back to their old selves.

"I don't have any anger. I feel like there's purpose in it. I'm not sure what that is and I don't know if I ever will," Connie said.

Investigators say the mystery to them is still why the shooter drove the stolen car away from the area, then brought it back to North Augusta to a hotel.

Of course, they may never find out unless they find him.

The reward is still being offered for up to $10,000 for information leading to the killer's arrest and conviction.

Mailing Address: P.O. Box 1212 Augusta, GA 30903 Main Telephone: (803) 278-1212 Newsroom: (803) 278-3111 newsroom@wrdw.com Fax: (803) 442-4561
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