‘DEVIL CHURCH’ STORY UPDATE

Report raises questions over whether Hudson brandished gun in July incident

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SILER CITY — New information obtained by the News + Record in the case of a Pittsboro Elementary School teacher charged with assault with a deadly weapon raises questions over whether he did indeed brandish a gun during an encounter with five teens who were allegedly trespassing on a road near his home.

On July 30, Eric Hudson was arrested and charged after an incident that occurred on July 10. Two teens involved — a brother and a sister — told the News + Record on that day, Hudson chased after the car that they and three others were traveling on Pleasant Hill Road. Hudson is accused of following the teens, passing them in his car, and stopping suddenly in front of them, causing a collision. The teens say Hudson appeared to brandish a gun in the process of confronting them. Hudson continued to follow the teens, they say, until they were able to elude him.

Neighbors criticized the News + Record’s reporting of the story and defended Hudson, saying the teens were exaggerating. They say the car — in which five youngsters traveled — was being driven on their private road and that the teens yelled expletives at Hudson. They also said Hudson — whom they described as an ideal neighbor “whose precious family has suffered from several of these incursions” — doesn’t own a gun, and that he was acting to protect his family.

The Chatham County Sheriff’s Office report of the incident describes Hudson’s modus operandi as “by subject threatening victims with a gun” and lists “handgun” in the “weapon” portion of the report; a copy of the warrant filed regarding the incident clarifies the “weapon” as a gray Lexus.

But a copy of Hudson’s arrest warrant, which is dated July 30 and details the charges against him, doesn’t specifically mention a gun.

Late Friday, a spokesman for the Chatham County Sheriff’s Office told the News + Record its own internal report includes the mention of the gun because it was part of what officers were told during the original investigation.

“Whenever an individual reaches out to the Sheriff’s Office to file a report, we take down their account of events as they describe their experience,” Lieutenant Sara Pack, the office’s chief public information officer, said. “This information becomes the foundation for future investigation; evidence gathered during an investigation may support this initial report, disprove all or parts of the initial report, or results may be inconclusive. It was initially reported that Mr. Hudson brandished a gun during the encounter; therefore, this information was included in the initial report.”

Chatham County Sheriff Mike Roberson addressed the conflicting information in a statement.

“During the course of an investigation, deputies may receive conflicting information,” he said. “Misinformation can also be amplified and shared in the media and online, complicating investigations and potentially influencing an individual’s right to a fair trial. The Sheriff’s Office is not for or against any person; we are for facts, justice, and the truth.”

Pack also clarified that the Sheriff’s Office filed charges against Hudson in the case. The News + Record previously reported the charges were brought by the District Attorney’s office based on statements made by the victims in the case. Multiple calls about the case made to the District Attorney’s office were not returned.

“The Sheriff’s Office brought the charges in this case; our investigators gathered enough information and evidence to charge Mr. Hudson with assault with a deadly weapon and injury to personal property,” Pack said.

Hudson’s court date, scheduled for last Wednesday, Jan. 18, was continued. His case, originally scheduled to be heard back in August, had been delayed. Hudson’s next scheduled court appearance was scheduled to be Wednesday, Jan. 25. In addition to the five assault with a deadly weapon charges, Hudson has also been charged with damage to personal property.

Reporter Ben Rappaport and Editor/Publisher Bill Horner III contributed reporting.

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