A witness and the girlfriend of a man apparently shot and killed by his grandfather May 7 said the accused gunman was “drunk out of his mind” when the incident took place at their home on Chicken Road.
Crystal Colyer, 31, said she suffered two gunshot wounds to the hip after James Frances Hoover, 77, allegedly shot his grandson, James Chase Hoover, twice in the lower chest. Chase Hoover died at the scene, and James Hoover remains in Wilson County Jail charged with criminal homicide and attempted criminal homicide.
A preliminary hearing was set for Wednesday.
Colyer said May 7 was an otherwise typical day. She said James Hoover took his grandson to work, and Chase Hoover was awaiting a ride home afterward when she noticed something wasn’t right.
“Chase called me and said he needed Papa to come get him from work,” said Colyer, who referred to James Hoover as Papa. “I went to tell him and couldn’t find him. He pulls up, and I tell him to go get Chase.
“They pulled up and both of them looked irritated. We went into our room. Papa was questioning me about being at the house all day. He said, “You’re lying. You’re a [expletive].
“Chase said, ‘Don’t call her that.’ Papa hit Chase in the head with a cane. Chase told me we couldn’t stay there anymore. He turned around, and Papa shot Chase in the stomach.”
Colyer said when the initial shots were fired, she ran into a bathroom and locked the door. She said James Hoover fired two more shots, which hit Colyer in the hip. She then took the weights off an exercise curl bar and used it to prop the door closed.
“I was pleading with him to stop,” she said.
Colyer said the bathroom was under repair, so she tried to pry the floor up. When that didn’t work, she said she went back to the door and opened it.
Colyer said James Hoover fired another round from the gun before she hit the gun in his hand with the curl bar. She said she realized then James Hoover was also armed with a hatchet.
“He kept saying, ‘This is all your fault. You’re going to die,’” Colyer said.
Colyer said she realized she had been hit in the head with the hatchet after she awoke later at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. A struggle ensued over the hatchet, she said, before she managed to get it, striking James Hoover three times in the head with it.
Colyer said she was able to run out of the house and to a neighbor’s home, where she called authorities.
“He still came over to the neighbor’s house trying to get me,” she said. “He did all of this over a little scuffle.”
Both Colyer and James Hoover were taken to the hospital, where warrants were presented to James Hoover after sheriff’s investigators completed their initial investigation and questioned Colyer.
“Chase was a hard worker, and Papa was not a bad man,” Colyer said. “He really was a really good man. I felt guilty for having to hit him with the hatchet.
“[Chase] is the reason why I am sober right now. I grew up in foster care, and I never had a family of my own. We were going to take care of Papa and make that our home.”
Colyer said she’s still grieving over the loss of her boyfriend and has episodes of fear over the incident. Despite it all, she said she still cares for James Hoover.
“You can’t turn off love, and I still love him,” she said.