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October 18, 2010

Haunted trail shooting causes injury, confusion

A masked man shot a ticket collector and stole $1,500 in cash from a haunted trail Saturday night in rural southeastern York County.

A masked man shot a ticket collector and stole $1,500 in cash from a haunted trail Saturday night in rural southeastern York County, police and witnesses said.

The assailant opened fire near the entrance to the trail, causing 20 to 30 people waiting in line to scatter, witnesses told The Herald. As a scramble ensued, the man jumped into a waiting car and sped away.

"People just ran in all directions," said Kristy Sims, a volunteer at the trail.

The ticket collector, 56-year-old James Douglas Rockholt, was rushed to Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte. He was scheduled to undergo surgery on Sunday for an arm wound, said his son, Jonathan Rockholt, who was supervising the trail at the time.

The incident occurred around 10:40 p.m. at the "Trail of Terror" on Tuckaway Road off S.C. 901, about three miles from Interstate 77.

Rockholt said his dad, a U.S. Army veteran, tried to grab the gun when the assailant approached him and demanded money. As the masked man ran away, an armed trail volunteer chased him and fired shots, according to authorities and witnesses.

No other injuries were reported.

"He was trying to deal with the situation," the younger Rockholt said of his father. "That's what they teach you in the military. When he tried to take care of the threat, he got shot."

Investigators are pursuing solid leads but have made no arrests, said Lt. W.J. Miller of the York County Sheriff's Office.

Loud noises are part of the experience at the trail, volunteers said. Among the features is a firecracker set off by a character playing a deer hunter, said Sims, who witnessed the shooting.

"After the first pop, I knew it wasn't our props," she said. "That's when I realized what was going on."

Some people ran into the trail, while others ducked behind cars in the parking lot, said James Lark, 27, who runs the operation with the Rockholts.

A group of friends re-opened the trail on the Rockholts' property after taking the last several years off, Lark said.

"It could've just went totally bad," said Lark.

"A lot more people could've ended up shot."

Robbers hit convenience stores on Saturday night

Detectives are also investigating robberies late Saturday night at three convenience stores near Rock Hill and Fort Mill. No one was hurt in the robberies, which occurred at a BP on Lesslie Highway, Crenco on S.C. 901 and Kangaroo off Carowinds Boulevard.

It's unclear whether the incidents are related, police said. Suspect descriptions indicate different groups of people in the cases, said Miller, the detective in charge.

"Anything's a possibility right now," Miller said.

Volunteers say they are determined to keep open the "Trail of Terror," created to raise money for the Children's Miracle Network. Now, a portion of proceeds will help pay Rockholt's medical expenses.

More security guards will be added, volunteers said. The trail opens at 8 p.m. on Oct. 21-23 and Oct. 28-31. Admission is $12 per person.

"We're not going to let it hold us down," Jonathan Rockholt said. "We're all here to try to have a good time, get some good scares and have a fundraiser. I just hate things like this happen."

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