BURKE COUNTY, N.C. -- A Burke County man was airlifted to Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte with serious injuries after telling deputies someone shot him – while his home burned down behind him.
Now deputies believe the man wasn’t even shot at all. They’re investigating whether he injured his leg and set his home on fire trying to ignite a crude, homemade shotgun from a pipe and a shotgun shell.
Emergency crews called to Bobby Dee Woodard’s home off Old NC 18 near Elona just after 1 p.m. Saturday thought they were responding to a brush fire, but instead found Woodard’s mobile home and the woods around it on fire.
“It's just black smoke, and the trailer just went up in flames quick,” said neighbor Jennifer Loftus, who came outside after hearing gunshots.
“The whole house was on fire and I got a little closer and there was a guy laying on the ground,” she said. “He was bleeding, had a belt wrapped around his leg – said some buy was shooting him.”
Loftus said Woodard appeared incoherent. “He said the neighbor shot him, and turned around and said the guy up here shot him. I didn't think he knew what was really going on,” she said.
The first deputy on the scene carried Woodard, 58, to his patrol car and drove him to an ambulance. Woodard was taken to Grace Hospital in Morganton and then airlifted to CMC-Main in Charlotte.
His condition was not available Saturday night.
Deputies are trying to sort out exactly what happened.
"We have several different stories and scenarios that we're hearing so we're just now beginning an investigation to determine what actually occurred," said Sheriff Steve Whisenant.
Since Woodard’s home burned completely to the ground, little evidence is left to point to a cause. Part of the reason it burned so completely is because deputies held back firefighters, believing there was a gunman on the loose based on what Woodard told them.
“Our concern was did we have an active shooter,” said Whisenant. “We had to clear the area before we could allow firefighters and EMS personnel in.”
Once deputies cleared the scene, volunteer fire departments worked through the afternoon to put out the flames that scorched the woods around Woodard’s home. It was completely out by late Saturday, according to a Burke County emergency dispatcher.
It will take longer to sort out Woodard’s story, said Whisenant.