YAZOO CITY, MISS., AUG. 15 -- A small-town newspaper editor who was shot Friday while photographing a county crew working on private property said she will continue seeking to expose illegal activities.
"I turned to get another angle and I heard a loud bang that I thought was the truck backfiring, and then I felt the pain," Debby Chaney Montgomery, editor of the Yazoo City Herald, said from her hospital bed Friday. "He shot me with my back turned."
County roads worker James D. Hughes, of Benton, was arrested on an aggravated assault charge. Deputies seized a 20-gauge shotgun. Hughes was released on a $7,500 bond.
Montgomery is listed in satisfactory condition at King's Daughters Hospital with minor birdshot wounds to her leg and hip.
"She had information that there was some illegal driveway work going on. And she went out to investigate it," Yazoo County Sheriff T.G. Sadler said.
"She was taking pictures when one man went to his truck for his shotgun . . . . He said he wasn't shooting to hit her, just to scare her, and a couple of pellets hit her," Sadler said.
Montgomery, editor of the biweekly since 1984, has written several stories on the actions of Yazoo County supervisors. She dictated Friday's story from her hospital bed, coworkers said.
Montgomery said she had received telephone threats at home and work in recent months for articles on county purchasing practices. Yazoo County has been included in a statewide undercover Federal Bureau of Investigation probe that has resulted in the arrests of 39 supervisors in other Mississippi counties since February.
No supervisors from Yazoo County have been arrested. Federal officials said the investigation is continuing.
"I'm just so sorry it happened. There's no reason for it," County Supervisor Sam Fisher said of the shooting. He said he will decide whether Hughes will be fired after an investigation is complete.
Fisher said the work on the private driveway was legal because water from the driveway was draining onto a county road and leaving debris.
"They can say what they want. They were grating and graveling a private driveway, and it's against the law," Montgomery said.
The sheriff said county officials told him the project had been approved by the state Audit Department, but department officials disputed that claim.
"It is possible that that work was legal, but nobody on my staff has approved it and I haven't been able to track down anybody who said that to anyone," said Louisa Dixon, director of the department's investigative unit.