UNION COUNTY, N.C. — In an exclusive interview, NBC Charlotte talked with the father of a teenager who was stabbed while jogging last week in Union County.
It happened around 7:15 p.m. Thursday in the Weddington Chase neighborhood. The 13-year-old was rushed to the hospital after running to a neighbor's house for help.
The father walked NBC Charlotte through the area where the attack happened and described how the horrifying events unfolded.
The victim’s father, who asked his name not be used, said his son had just left a wooded area when he was suddenly attacked by the suspect out in the open. Somehow, his son continued running for help.
The father described the sounds his son heard just moments before the attack.
"He started hearing the footsteps around here," he said. "It’s really a nightmare."
Then the father demonstrated what happened next to his son.
"The guy came behind, stabbed him in the back," the father said.
The father said when his son turned around, he saw a roughly six-inch knife.
"My son got a good look at that," the father said.
The teenager, who is on the cross country team, went for a jog around a neighborhood pond.
“The last thing I said to him, 'Just make sure you get two miles,'” his father told NBC Charlotte.
The father said while doing a lap, his son passed by the suspect who was standing near a dock. After finishing the lap, the victim’s father said his son went up a trail into a wooded area and then came to a clear view on the other side.
The father said the suspect stabbed his son not far from the street.
"He (the suspect) stabbed someone in the back, I think that’s pretty cowardly to do that," he said.
After being stabbed, the teenager ran for help and found a neighbor at home who called 911.
"Try to keep him talking, he was close to maybe passing out," neighbor Sheri Ruis previously told NBC Charlotte.
"No tears, no screaming, just kind of like, 'I’m hurt, help me,'" said the father.
Investigators are searching for the person they say randomly attacked the teen.
"Unprovoked and for no apparent reason," said Tony Underwood with the Union County Sheriff’s Office.
The suspect is described as a blonde-haired white male around 18-years-old who was wearing shorts, running shoes, and no socks. According to investigators, a neighbor’s video surveillance obtained by NBC Charlotte showed someone who is possibly the suspect.
On Monday, deputies said they are following possible leads, but no positive identification has been made. Meanwhile, the victim’s father said he’s preparing to circulate flyers around.
"We’re going to get him," the father said.
The father expressed gratitude for everyone who’s helped, including police, first responders, neighbors, and medical teams. He also said he’s proud of his son for running through the serious injury.
"To have the fortitude to keep standing and running, it’s really amazing," the father said.
The father says the 13-year-old had some tests done, and if all goes well, he could be released from the hospital soon.