Raleigh shooting: Victims identified, suspect is 15 years old


Raleigh shooting coverage

Seven people were shot in Raleigh, NC, near the Neuse River Greenway Trail. Five were killed, including a Raleigh police officer. Check back for the latest updates from The N&O’s breaking news team.

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One day after the deadly shooting in Raleigh that injured two and claimed five lives, including an off-duty police officer, a suspect is in custody and the city reels from the losses.

The shooting Thursday was one of the worst in North Carolina history.

Friday morning, Raleigh Police Chief Estella Patterson named the victims at the press conference.

READ MORE: What we know about the victims of the Raleigh shootings

The Raleigh Police Department confirmed that a 15-year-old boy was in custody with life-threatening injuries, as of 9:37 p.m. Thursday night. More details about the identity of the shooter have not been released but sources have confirmed to The News & Observer that the suspect is Austin Thompson, the younger brother of James.

In total, the suspect shot seven people Thursday in the Hedingham neighborhood in northeast Raleigh near Osprey Cove and Bay Harbor Drive just after 5 p.m.

Two other victims shot in the incident were treated for injuries at a local hospital. One of those victims was a Raleigh police senior officer who had non-life threatening injuries, according to Raleigh Police. Another, Marcille Lynn Gardner, is still in the hospital in critical condition.

As of Saturday morning, the investigation remains active.

Check back here for live updates on the latest news.

GoFundMe pages for victims

Updated 11:03 a.m. A GoFundMe page organized by Back the Blue North Carolina, a non-profit that supports law enforcement, has garnered almost $35,000 in donations as of Saturday morning. The proceeds from the page will be given to the surviving family members of Raleigh Police Officer Gabriel Torres, according to the group.

The 29-year-old officer was on the job for 18 months when he was shot and killed Thursday, on his way to work.

Another fundraiser for Marcille Lynn Gardner has raised almost $8,000. Gardner was shot and severely injured in the incident and is in the ICU but is in stable condition, according to the GoFundMe page for her. The donations are intended to help with medical bills and her recovery as she has “many surgeries ahead of her,” according to the GoFundMe page.

Gardner turned 60 years old on Saturday.

—Kristen Johnson, @kristensuzettee

A call for gun control

Updated 7:04 p.m. Friday. Leaders of local civil rights and gun safety groups renewed calls on state lawmakers and city officials Friday to take action to prevent gun violence after Thursday’s mass shooting left five people dead.

Becky Ceartas, executive director of North Carolinians Against Gun Violence, said she grieved with the families who had lost their loved ones. She said it was also important to remember other kinds of gun violence that impact cities like Raleigh every day, including community gun violence, homicides, suicides and domestic violence.

“Gun violence is incredibly tragic because of the lives that are stolen, and because there are policies and programs that we know work, and we know must be put in place now,” Ceartas said at a press conference Friday afternoon.

Ceartas and other advocates called on city officials to invest in community violence intervention strategies, which include direct intervention to help resolve conflicts and stop violence before it happens, and support services for survivors of gun violence.

Advocates also called on state lawmakers to pass a red flag law, which enables authorities to temporarily confiscate an individual’s guns if they are deemed a threat to themselves or others. Such legislation has been introduced by Democratic lawmakers but hasn’t advanced in either chamber of the Republican-controlled General Assembly.

“This evening, we will do what I know every parent in America will do, which is hug our children a little tighter, and we’ll tell them we love them. And we’ll remind each other how much deeply we love each other,” said Gerald Givens Jr., the president of the Raleigh-Apex NAACP. “But some Raleigh families don’t get to do that tonight.”

Givens also urged gun owners to make sure their firearms are stored securely, especially during the upcoming holiday season. “We have suffered too much from these tragedies over the years,” Givens said.

—Avi Bajpai, @avibajpai_

Billy Graham chaplains to come to Raleigh

Updated 5:53 p.m. Friday. Chaplains from Billy Graham Ministries are headed to Raleigh in response to the mass shooting.

A mobile ministry center will be set up at the Hedingham Community Pool on Grand Traverse Drive as “a hub for prayer and conversation with locals.”

The news release did not say when the center would be set up or how long it would stay.

All of the victims lived in the neighborhood, which is adjacent to the Neuse River Greenway trail.

—Anna Johnson, @Anna_M_Johnson

‘We heard them screaming’

Updated 4:08 p.m. Friday. In 911 calls received to the Raleigh Police Department Thursday night, callers are heard describing the scene to the dispatcher. Those who saw the shooter say he was dressed in camouflage and carrying a long gun that looked like a shot gun.

One caller was the friend of slain Raleigh police officer Gabriel Torres who said Torres was “bleeding from his chest.”

Another said she heard the incident happen and saw people on the ground: “We heard the shots, and we heard them screaming. And so we got down because we heard it was a gun.”

—Richard Stradling, @RStradling & Kimberly Cataudella, @kcataudella

Knightdale High postpones homecoming

Updated 3:58 p.m. Friday. Hours after learning 16-year-old James Thompson, a junior at Knightdale High School, was shot and killed in Raleigh, the school postponed their homecoming events that were scheduled for Friday night.

The school’s football game, against Rolesville High School, is rescheduled to Monday night. The homecoming tailgate party, and homecoming court and dance are rescheduled for Oct. 28.

—Martha Quillin, @MarthaQuillin

Suspect identified as victim’s brother

Updated 3:42 p.m. Friday. Sources have confirmed for The News & Observer that the suspect in Thursday night’s mass shooting is 15-year-old Austin Thompson, a sophomore at Knightdale High School and the brother of 16-year-old shooting victim James Thompson.

Austin Thompson is hospitalized in critical condition at WakeMed, where he was taken after being captured by police Thursday night.

—Anna Johnson, @Anna_M_Johnson

Potential charges

Updated 3:28 p.m. On Friday afternoon, Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman told The N&O that she has begun the process of moving this case from juvenile court to Superior Court. Her office has filed petitions for a probable cause hearing, the first step in transferring the case to Superior Court.

Because these petitions were filed in juvenile court, Freeman’s office has not released the suspect’s name.

Pending the suspect’s health, Freeman said a probable cause hearing is typically held within 15 days of the incident. If probable cause is determined, the case will automatically be moved to superior court, per a North Carolina law that elevates Class A felonies to superior court under these circumstances.

“In this situation, there’s no question the mass loss of life, in my opinion, this case be transferred and tried in superior court,” Freeman said.

—Colleen Hammond, @colleenchamm


President Joe Biden released a statement Friday afternoon regarding the deadly shooting in Raleigh saying, “Enough. We’ve grieved and prayed with too many families who have had to bear the terrible burden of these mass shooting.’

“Too many families have had spouses, parents, and children taken from them forever,” he said. “This year, and even in just the five months since Buffalo and Uvalde, there are too many mass shootings across America, including ones that don’t even make the national news.”

The president also renewed his call for a ban on assault weapons. Raleigh Police have not confirmed if the weapon used Thursday was an assault weapon.

Several elected officials released statements about the tragedy mourning the losses and some, calling for action.

“Now more than ever, it’s clear we have to make real, tangible progress and make sure our communities are safe from gun violence,” said N.C. Sen. Jay Chaudhuri.

—Kristen Johnson, @kristensuzettee

Section of Neuse River greenway closed

The City of Raleigh closed the Neuse River Greenway Trail between Buffalo Road and Anderson Point Park while the area is under investigation. The trail stretches across 27.5 miles in Wake County.

The remainder of the greenway will remain open, according to a statement.

Neuse River Greenway Trail
The Neuse River Greenway Trail is closed between Buffaloe Road and Anderson Point Park until further notice to support the ongoing investigation, according to the City of Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources office. Andrew Carter Andrew Carter

—Kristen Johnson, @kristensuzettee

What we know about the victims

Updated 3:14 p.m. According to the Wake County Public School System, James Thompson was a junior at Knightdale High School.

WCPSS sent a message from Lindsay Mahaffey, the board chair, and Catty Moore, the superintendent, to parents in the school system with information about how students can get help to cope with the traumatic event.

“Like you, we are shocked, saddened and broken-hearted,” the message read. “Our hearts go out to the victims’ loved ones, and our community continues to seek answers around this tragedy and solutions to prevent such unspeakable events in the future.”

Susan Karnatz, a 49-year-old mother, lived in Hedingham with her husband, Tom. In a Facebook post, he grieved the loss of Karnatz, saying the couple had big plans with their sons.

Mary Marshall was a former culinary student at Wake Technical Community College, according to the school’s president, Scott Ralls.

“Mary was known by faculty and students as a hard worker with a determination to succeed, and was one of six Wake Tech culinary students selected to study in France prior to graduation,” Ralls said.

Nicole Connors’ dog was also killed during the incident alongside her, according to her husband, Tracey Howard. Their mailbox was riddled with bullet holes.

—Kristen Johnson, @kristensuzettee & Martha Quillin, @MarthaQuillin

Fundraising efforts for Raleigh officer

Updated 11:30 a.m. The Raleigh Police Protective Association said it is in the process of fundraising for Officer Torres’ family this morning.

The association posted a statement Friday morning on Facebook: “We ask all of you to please pray and keep in your thoughts Officer Torres and the other victims of this senseless act of evil. We are thankful and proud of the courageous response of members of the Raleigh Police Department, Wake County Sheriffs Office, State Highway Patrol, NC ALE and State Capitol Police who successfully took the suspect into custody. We are committed to Officer Torres’s family and are in the process of setting up fundraising efforts that are approved and authorized by the family.”

—Kristen Johnson, @kristensuzettee

Raleigh Police Chief speaks on Raleigh shooting

Updated 11:20 a.m. Raleigh Police Chief Estella Patterson was in Dallas at the Major Cities Chiefs Association annual meeting as Thursday’s events unfolded. She spoke with The News & Observer after Friday’s news conference about how she learned that one of her officers had been killed and another was injured.

“All day, we had been talking about the challenges we’re facing right now with gun violence and youth violence when I got an alert, and then came the phone calls,” she said.

She immediately left to fly back to Raleigh, landing shortly after midnight. The next few hours were making sure the city was covered with enough officers and that officers were being taken care of. Raleigh police officers were joined by law enforcement from numerous agencies during the manhunt for the 15-year-old suspect.

“We’re thinking far in advance to make sure that our officers are getting proper counseling,” Patterson said. “That we’re ready and prepared to cover our city this evening. Because it’s a Friday, the State Fair is in session. So all those considerations are hugely important.”

She said the case is “complex” due to the number of victims, the age of the suspect and sheer size of the crime scene. A search was happening both in the Hedingham neighborhood in northeastern Raleigh but also a few miles away near McConnell Oliver Drive.

The police department had to make sure there weren’t additional victims, Patterson said.

“We had to do a full canvas of that complete neighborhood, door-to-door checking to make sure everyone was okay and accounted for,” she said.

On top of that, the August shooting of Wake Sheriff’s Deputy Ned Byrd is still fresh in law enforcement officers’ minds, she said. He was killed on-duty. Patterson said Thursday’s shooting adds to the “stress and trauma” that officers are facing.

—Anna Johnson, @Anna_M_Johnson

Raleigh Chief of Police Estella Patterson speaks during a press conference Friday, Oct. 14, 2022 outside the Avery C. Upchurch Municipal Complex in Raleigh following a mass shooting that left 5 people dead Thursday in Raleigh’s Hedingham neighborhood. Travis Long tlong@newsobserver.com

Flags lowered to honor victims

10:54 a.m. Gov. Cooper ordered all flags to be lowered to half-staff as the community mourns the victims killed Thursday evening.

“The depth of their pain is unimaginable,” Cooper said at the Friday morning press conference. “As policy makers, we cannot, and we will not, turn away (from) what has happened here. We must be resolved to make changes and to succeed.”

At the North Carolina State Fair, which began Thursday evening, the N.C. Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler held a moment of silence for the victims during his speech to open the fair Friday morning.

“Yesterday’s tragic and senseless shooting in east Raleigh is just a reminder of how fragile life is and we should cherish that everyday,” he said. “Our hearts are heavy for the victims of that shooting.”

Troxler said he is reminded when he comes to the State Fair the importance of community.

“The spirit that the people of North Carolina have to rally around those that are not as fortune as they are,” he said.

—Kristen Johnson, @kristensuzettee

What we know about Raleigh police officer

10:10 a.m. Twenty-nine-year old Raleigh Police Officer Gabriel Torres was on his way to work when he was shot and killed yesterday in the Hedingham neighborhood.

Patterson said Torres has been on the job for 18 months. He was not in uniform or in his patrol car when he was shot.

He leaves behind a wife and child, Patterson said.

At this time, Raleigh Police have not said if there was a connection between the 15-year-old suspect and the victims.

—Kristen Johnson, @kristensuzettee

Raleigh Police detectives look for evidence along the golf course in the Hedingham neighborhood on Friday morning, October 14, 2022 in Raleigh, N.C. as they continue to investigate the shooting that killed 5 people, including an off-duty police officer. Robert Willett rwillett@newsobserver.com

‘Unspeakable agony’

8:30 a.m.: Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin addressed the Raleigh community during a press conference alongside Gov. Roy Cooper and Patterson to share updates about the shooting.

The officials also called for support for the victims and the fallen officer.

Senior Raleigh Police Officer Casey Joseph Clark was released from the hospital after getting treated for his injuries.

The shootings occurred first in the neighborhood, and the suspect fled to the greenway, where other people were shot, Patterson said.

Torres, who was off-duty when he was killed, was on his way to work, she said.

Patterson did not say how the victims were related to the suspect.

Raleigh police are asking for the public to stay away from the scene of the incident as they investigate.

Patterson said a narrative of events will be provided in a five-day report.

In addition to warning residents not to leave their homes yesterday, Raleigh Police evacuated community centers, Marsh Creek and Buffalo Aquatics, and Beaver Creek Elementary School was on lockdown, Patterson said.

“We’re standing with you in this moment of unspeakable agony,” Cooper said. “No one should feel this fear in their communities. No one. As policy makers we cannot, and we will not, turn away from what has happened here.”

—Kristen Johnson, @kristensuzettee

This story was originally published October 14, 2022 9:02 AM.

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