Two Tuscarora Indians who staged an armed takeover of a newspaper office and held hostages for 10 hours, in what they said was a protest of local corruption, were found not guilty of all charges by a jury Friday.
Eddie Hatcher, 31, and Timothy Jacobs, 20, both of Pembroke, faced charges of making and possessing illegal firearms, conspiring to make those weapons and conveying false information about explosives. A federal charge of hostage-taking was dismissed earlier this week against Jacobs but remained against Hatcher.
Hatcher and Jacobs never denied walking into the Robesonian newspaper office on Feb. 1, chaining the door shut and brandishing sawed-off shotguns. They held as many as 20 people during the 10-hour siege, in which no one was injured.
Agreed to Task Force
They surrendered after they were told that the governor had agreed to set up a task force to investigate their allegations of official corruption and drug trafficking in Robeson County.
“I’m just glad that Timothy and Eddie did something to draw attention to the conditions in our county,” said Eleanor Jacobs, the mother of Jacobs. “I hate that they used guns. But they did draw attention to something that was needed. The jury had compassion. They understood things.”
Hatcher said after the verdict: “It is the people who have brought justice, not the system. It has always been that way.”
Robesonian Editor Bob Horne, one of the hostages, said he had no immediate comment.
Robeson County Sheriff Hubert Stone said he hated to see the trial become a forum for Hatcher and Jacobs “at taxpayers’ expense.”
Assistant U.S. Atty. John Bruce argued that even if the defense’s allegations of corruption among officials in Robeson County were true, the defendants’ actions at the Robesonian were not justified.