DA explains lack of ethnic intimidation charges against Walmart shooter

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One day after Lakim Faust pleaded guilty to 14 counts including attempted murder and assault on law enforcement, officials talked about the case they categorize as one of the worst shootings to hit Greenville.

Greenville Police Chief Hassan Aden and Pitt County District Attorney Kimberly Robb spoke to the media Tuesday morning, saying they are happy with the outcome of the case.

On Monday, Faust was sentenced to a minimum of 97 years and 8 months in prison. In June 2013, Faust shot four people in the Kellem Law Firm and Greenville Boulevard Walmart parking lots.

All of Faust's victims where white men. In the beginning of the case, the now 24-year-old was indicted for ethnic intimidation. That was not one of the charges presented in the case on Monday, and on Tuesday we asked why.

"The crime of ethnic intimidation, which you all and others have referenced as a hate crime, is a Class 1 misdemeanor in the state of North Carolina," says District Attorney Robb. "At his sentencing level, the most he could of received for an ethnic intimidation charge would have been 90 days. When balancing the 90 days and the 97 years we felt like it was more important to proceed on the attempted murder charge, just like we did."

During the press conference, Chief Aden talked also of the use of the body cam during Faust's shooting spree. He says it also provides insight into how they handled the situation as a department.

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A man who wounded four people in the parking lot of the Walmart on Greenville Boulevard and a law office parking lot in June 2013, will spend at least the next 97 years and eight months in prison.

Greenville police said just before noon on June 21, 2013, Lakim Faust shot 64 year old Timothy Edwards in the parking lot of the Kellum Law Firm.

Officers said the shooter then sprayed bullets in the Walmart parking lot off Greenville Boulevard.

70 year old Carroll Oakes of Grifton, 69 year old Vernon Leggett of Greenville, and 50 year old Haywood Whichard, Jr. of Greenville were all hurt in that shooting.

Officers swarmed the area in minutes, shooting the 23 year old gunman.

The four victims and the gunman survived the shooting. Faust is black, and all four victims are white. The indictments in the case say Faust shot the four men because of their "race, color, religion, nationality, or country of origin."

Faust faced 14 charges, including attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury and assault on a law enforcement officer.

He pleaded guilty to all charges in court.

When asked why Faust was not charged with a hate crime, District Attorney Kimberly Robb said that would have played a factor if they had gone to trial. "Those issues were addressed in the charging documents and could have been aggravating factors had we gone to trial," said Robb in a statement. "When he entered his plea of guilty to all charges, we were confident that he would receive a sufficient sentence without having to prove those factors in court."

Judge Jack Jenkins told Faust he faced up to 270 years in jail. The judge said since there was no plea agreement with prosecutors, sentencing was at his discretion.

Prosecutors presented factual evidence in the case before the judge sentences Faust.

Just before lunch, the judge accepted the plea. Two of the victims, and relatives of the other victims addressed the court at prior to sentencing.

Carroll Oakes, who still has shotgun pellets in his hand, told the judge that he hoped Faust would not be allowed to get out "and do the same same thing again."

Tim Edwards, who was shot in the face while sitting in his car in front of the law office, asked the judge that Faust "be put away and kept away. As a Christian, I forgive him."

Judge Jenkins said the crime was "just plain mean. This is not a case that merits mercy"

Before he was sentenced, Faust apologized to the families.

"I apologize deeply from my heart," Faust told the judge. "I am trying to find my way back to God of course, this situation brought me a lot more closer to him. I apologize again. I don't know this may help at all in a situation like this, but I'm just glad no one got killed."

Faust said he thanked God that police officers did not kill him.

"I was pointblank, I was the target," said Faust. "I'm sorry again and I hope we can move past this. I never had anything against anyone in particular and I can assure you that it won't happen again. I'm not able to lift a gun up or get around or put on my own clothes anymore, the way I want to, so I guess we are all going through it. And I'm sorry again. Thank you."