RALEIGH, N.C. >> Police believe the shooting rampage that left five dead in North Carolina’s capital city last week began when the 15-year-old suspect shot his older brother, according to a report released Thursday.
More details about the shootings emerged from the four-page preliminary report that Raleigh’s police chief delivered to the city manager. Such summaries are written within five business days of an officer-involved shooting.
The victims in the Oct. 13 shooting included an off-duty city police officer who, like all the other victims, lived in the Hedingham neighborhood where the shootings began, according to police. Two others were wounded, one of whom remains in critical but stable condition, the report said.
Witnesses had described a shooter wearing camouflage clothing, which the report confirmed, and firing a shotgun in the subdivision and along a nearby walking trail.
Police said the suspect — still not named in the report because he is a juvenile but identified by his parents this week as Austin Thompson — was captured in a barnlike structure more than four hours after the first emergency call. The report said the teen had traveled nearly 2 miles (3.2 kilometers) from where his brother was found shot and stabbed. Police exchanged gunfire with the teen and one officer was injured. The officer was treated at a hospital and released that evening.
The report said officers gave repeated commands for the suspect to surrender and special officers worked to figure out his exact location. Police ultimately decided to advance toward the building where he was found.
When officers arrested the teen, he appeared to have a single gunshot wound and had a handgun in his waistband. A shotgun and shells were lying nearby, according to the report. It didn’t describe how he obtained the weapons or how he was wounded.
Thompson was hospitalized in critical condition after his arrest and was moved to a pediatric ICU unit, his parents said. The top local prosecutor has said he will be charged as an adult.
The teen had a backpack that contained several types of rifle and shotgun ammunition, the report said, and the sheath of a large hunting knife clipped to his belt. A knife was found at the front of the outbuilding where he was captured, police said.
Based on the teen’s estimated direction of travel, police believe 16-year-old James Thompson, identified by his parents as the suspect’s brother, was shot first last week, the report said.
“The collective motive for these attacks is still unknown,” the report from Chief Estella Patterson said. “There does not appear to be any connection between the victims that were shot by the suspect prior to his encounter with the police other than that they lived in the same neighborhood,”
According to the report, emergency communications received a 5:09 p.m. call for service based on multiple shots fired near the neighborhood’s golf course.
A few minutes later, a 911 caller a few minutes later reported hearing shots and saw two shooting victims in front of a house. Police believe the teen shot Marcille Lynn Gardner, who was found wounded in the driveway, then fired at Nicole Connors, 52, who lived in the house. Connors was shot on her porch and later died. Gardner, 60, remains hospitalized.
Soon after, off-duty Raleigh police Officer Gabriel Torres was shot inside his car on another street in the neighborhood as he was about to leave for work, the report said. Torres, 29, later died at the hospital.
That’s when the teen fled toward the Neuse River Greenway Trail, the report said, where a couple of minutes later a 911 caller found two more victims along the trail who died at the scene. They were Mary Marshall, 34, and Susan Karnatz, 49.
Officers who had swarmed the area located the teen a little over an hour later in an area with two barn-like structures. That’s when police said they believe he fired shots at officers from one of the buildings and multiple officers returned fire. Two Raleigh officers who discharged their firearms have been placed on administrative duty.
A service was scheduled Thursday evening for James Thompson. The parents of the two teenagers released a statement earlier this week saying they are “overcome with grief” and saw no warning signs that “Austin was capable of doing anything like this.”
An attorney for the family didn’t immediately respond to a phone call or email asking whether the Thompsons had a comment on the report.
Services were set for Saturday for Torres and Karnatz. A citywide “Raleigh Healing Together” vigil was planned for Sunday downtown.
The Associated Press generally does not name people under 18 who are accused of crimes, but is identifying Austin Thompson because of the severity and publicity of the shootings and because his parents voluntarily named him.
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