Shooting Suspect Charged

By: Laura Kadechka
By: Laura Kadechka

Investigators make a big break in the nearly year-old shooting investigation of a Leon County bait and tackle shop owner.

The man they say was the prime suspect is under arrest, and investigators spent the day searching for the gun he used to shoot Cary Whitfield.

Whitfield shares his story of survival. It was Cary Whitfield's dream to open a bait and tackle shop in the community he grew up in, but his life would forever change on February 15, 2005.

He remembers it was early. A man he had never seen before walked in to his shop.

Cary says, "When I walked up to the cash register he stuck a pistol over the cash register and shot me in the chest, put the pistol against my chest and pulled the trigger. I hit the floor, and that's all I remember."

The bullet lodged in his spine, paralyzing him from the waist down. Today, he still can't understand why. He says the man never even asked for money.

Rae Waddell, Cary's daughter, says, "He's known for helping anybody out, so if the guy had just asked for money, he certainly would've given it to him."

Detectives charged 44-year-old Grant Hayes with the shooting. The man confessed to the crime on Friday after an 11-month investigation.

Cary Whitfield adds, "It feels great to get him off the streets where he won't do it to someone else."

Whitfield says he's selling his shop so he can focus on getting better.

Cary says, "I hope one day I can get rid of the pain so I can get back to doing something."

His family and friends are at his side. They say he just might be a miracle or a man who fought for his life and won.

The accused trigger man, Grant Hayes, was already in jail serving time on cocaine charges when the new charges were filed Monday afternoon. Hayes is accused of attempted murder, armed robbery and more in the bait shop hold-up.


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