WARRANT: Man who shot ECU researcher claims he was poisoned, looking for a sacrifice

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) – A man who is accused of shooting an East Carolina University research scientist seven times last week told police that he was poisoned “and the only way to live was to find a sacrifice.”

That is according to a search warrant in the case obtained this morning by WITN News, giving more insight into a possible motive in the shooting.

Savell Hightower has been charged with multiple counts of attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon intent to kill inflicting serious injury, assault with a deadly weapon intent to kill on a law enforcement officer, possession of a firearm by felon, and possession of a stolen firearm.

The warrant says Hightower admitted to shooting Andrew Readyoff. Readyoff is out of the hospital and yesterday he met with Chief Ted Sauls who called him a hero.

The shooting happened around 8:30 a.m. last Wednesday on East 5th Street next to Wahl-Coates Elementary School.

Police said the shooting was unprovoked and afterward they had an armed encounter with Hightower on his bicycle. Officers say the man fired at them first and they returned fire. No one was injured in that exchange of gunfire.

The search warrant says the shooting was caught on school surveillance cameras. It says Readyoff told detectives he was walking down the street when someone rode by on a bicycle. “The man rode past him, stopped, turned around, and began shooting at him multiple times,” the warrant says.

Readyoff told detectives he did not know the man. The warrant says he was wounded in his legs and arms.

The warrant says Hightower “displayed extreme paranoia, stating the government was tracking him.” It says the suspect claimed his apartment was being tapped and bugged by government officials.

The search warrant was for Hightower’s apartment on East 10th Street. Seized during the search were two phones, a tablet, a black holster, a manual and tag for a mountain bike, a bullet, and a shell casing.

When contacted today, Greenville police said they couldn’t comment on the search warrant or its contents.

Hightower is being held at the Pitt County jail on a $6.175 million bond.