LUMBERTON — A 74-year-old Lumberton businessman was attacked in his home Tuesday night shortly after several cars at a junkyard he owns were set on fire, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
According to Anthony Thompson, chief of detectives, the masked man who attacked Eugene West at his 2404 Oak St. home identified himself as a “hit man” who had been sent to kill West, but decided to “spare his life.”
How badly West was injured was not clear, but he was taken to Southeastern Regional Medical Center, where he was treated and released. A person who answered the telephone at his business at 112 Jewels Lane this morning said West was at work.
West told investigators that he had returned from his business to his Oak Street home at about 3:15 a.m. Tuesday and was unlocking the door when someone approached him from behind, began choking him, stuck a knife to his throat and forced him inside. A struggle followed and West said he lost consciousness.
When West awakened, his hands were tied behind his back and he was prone on the living room floor. According to West, the assailant was walking through the home and asking repeatedly, “Where is the rest of the money?” and demanding to know where West’s safe was located.
The assailant told West that “he had been told there was a safe” inside the home.
West said the man sat down and talked with him for about 10 minutes, and at one point asked him “where was his medication.”
The man told West he was a “hit man for a drug dealer and he would be back.” He then left, taking an undisclosed amount of money and a weapon that belonged to West.
West apparently had gone to his business on Jewels Lane after a fire was reported there at 12:54 a.m. Tuesday. According to a separate report at the Sheriff’s Office, “several vehicles” at the business had been set on fire.
The man who attacked West was described as black, 5 feet, 9 inches tall and weighing about 240 pounds. He was wearing blue jeans, a blue jacket and concealed his face with a ski mask.
Thompson said investigators are trying to determine if there is a connection between the arson and the assault on West.