The teenage gunman who shot and killed five people Thursday in a North Carolina neighborhood suffered a gunshot wound to the head, police said.
Austin Thompson, 15, murdered his older brother, 16-year-old James Thompson, and his neighbor Nicole Connors first. He is then believed to have shot Susan Karnatz, 49, Mary Marshall, 35, and off-duty police officer Gabriel Torres, 29.
Thompson fled the scene of the rampage to a barn six miles from his home where he barricaded himself inside for several hours. Before he was taken into custody, police said Thompson suffered a ‘life threatening injury.’
It is unclear if that gunshot wound was self-inflicted.
Raleigh Police Chief Estella Patterson said Austin is in critical condition at WakeMed Health and Hospitals with multiple injuries. If Thompson survives, she expects him to be charged as an adult.
‘In consideration of the mass number of lives lost, it’s appropriate that this case be handled in Superior Court and this individual prosecuted as an adult,’ Patterson said.
The gunman also killed Connors’ dog, Sami.
A neighbor told the News and Observer that Thompson was sometimes seen with a bookbag in the early hours of the morning.
‘I used to see him at 4:30, 5 in the morning with a bookbag on,’ said Lavarius Thompson, an unrelated neighbor. ‘Buses don’t run until 7 in the morning.’
Neighbors also said that Thompson lived with his father, who worked as a handyman, and would often help on jobs.
Other neighbors in the Hedingham subdivision who were also classmates of the gunman told WRAL they did not see any red flags prior to the shootings.
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Gunman Austin Thompson (right) shot his older brother James (left) then killed four other people in an unexplained rampage yesterday in Raleigh, North Carolina
Off-duty cop Gabriel Torres was also shot and killed. He was on his way to work at the time. The gunman also shot his neighbor’s dog, Sami
The gunman first started shooting on Sahalee Way, then made his way down to the Neuse River Greenway where he shot some of the victims. He fled to a barn, and was taken into custody from there
A 911 call was made by a friend of Torres. ‘He’s one of yours! He’s an officer!’ he pleaded with the dispatcher.
He told them Thompson had been driving a ‘white car’, that he was carrying a ‘shotgun’.
Austin also shot two others – Marcielle Gardner, 59, and officer Casey Clark. They both survived, but Gardner is in the hospital in critical condition.
Thompson’s family have not yet spoken out. His killing spree prompted President Biden to renew his calls for a ban on assault weapons.
‘Enough. We’ve grieved and prayed with too many families who have had to bear the terrible burden of these mass shootings.
‘We must pass an assault weapons ban. The American people support this commonsense action to get weapons of war off our streets,’ he said.
Marshall’s partner Robert Steele wrote in a heartbreaking post: ‘The love of my life was killed last night by a cowardly individual. She was shot while walking our dog.
‘I don’t know what to say. I don’t know what to do. My world has been completely destroyed.’
Karnatz’s husband, Tom, shared this heartbreaking post on Facebook: ‘We had big plans together.
‘And we had little plans together. We had plans together for big adventures And plans together for the mundane days in between.
‘We had plans together with the boys. And we had plans together as empty nesters. We had plans together for growing old. Always together. Now those plans are laid to waste.
‘We have big memories together. And we have little memories together. We have memories together of joyous occasions. And memories together of plain times in between.
Neighbors embrace as police remain on the scene at Castle Pines Dr. and Sahalee Way following a shooting Thursday night in Raleigh, N.C., on Friday, Oct. 14, 2022
Nicole Connors’ partner, Tracey, is shown being escorted out of their home on Salahee Way on Friday. The entire street is being treated as a crime scene
Raleigh Chief of Police Estella Patterson speaks during a news conference Friday, Oct. 14, 2022 outside the Avery C. Upchurch Municipal Complex in Raleigh, N.C., following a mass shooting on Thursday
The grieving husbands of two of the women took to social media on Friday after they were killed. The gunman’s motive remains unconfirmed
‘We have memories together from before the boys. And memories, many memories together with the boys. Always and for ever, memories together.’
His motive remains unknown, and it is also not yet clear if he knew his victims.
Eyewitnesses told WRAL that they saw the gunman dressed in camouflage clothing with a backpack and black boots, crouching down, and said he was ‘aged between 13 and 16’.
‘He looked like a baby. I just don’t even have the words to explain. This is not OK.’
Neighbors consoled one another on Friday as the community came to grips with the tragedy
Residents walk along Castle Pines Drive in the Hedingham neighborhood on October 14, 2022 in Raleigh, North Carolina. Police are investigating a 2-mile area of land around the neighborhood where 5 people were shot and killed
Law enforcement officer walks at the entrance to Neuse River Greenway Trail parking at Abington Lane following a shooting in Raleigh, N.C., Thursday, Oct. 13, 2022
Police remain on the scene at Castle Pines Dr. and Sahalee Way following a shooting Thursday night in Raleigh, N.C., on Friday, Oct. 14, 2022. Police say a 15-year-old boy fatally shot at least two people in the streets of a neighborhood in North Carolina’s capital city, then fled toward a walking trail, where he opened fire, killing and wounding others
Police were seen searching a home near the scene of the shooting, believed to be that of the gunman and his family
Law enforcement are seen at the entrance to Neuse River Greenway Trail parking at Abington Lane, in east Raleigh
The police officer’s white car is seen in an image broadcast by WRAL News in Raleigh
Law enforcement officers block off Old Milburnie Road during a shooting in Raleigh, N.C., Thursday, Oct. 13, 2022
Raleigh Police Chief Stella Patterson on Friday morning said they still do not know the gunman’s motive
The shootings happened in the street. The gunman then fled towards the trail, where he shot some of the victims, before retreating to a barn.
North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper said: ‘Tonight, terror has reached our doorstep. The nightmare of every community has come to Raleigh.’
A local resident named Robert said: ‘I heard two gunshots, and they were really loud so I knew something was close by, and then I heard three other gunshots.
‘I saw him basically pass my house in the backyard. He had a long-barrel shotgun. He was dressed in camo. He had a full backpack on that was also camouflage.’
The quiet neighborhood is populated with single-family homes and golf courses.
Mary-Ann Baldwin, the mayor of Raleigh, said the suspect was ‘contained’, but police would not say whether they could communicate with him and his condition is not clear.
In this aerial image taken with a drone, Law enforcement work at the scene of a shooting in Raleigh, N.C., Thursday, Oct. 13, 2022
A heavily armed Alcohol Law Enforcement officer near the Hedingham residential neighborhood during an active shooter situation in Raleigh, North Carolina, USA, 13 October 2022
Law enforcement officers congregate outside an armored vehicle at the Aldi on New Bern Avenue in Raleigh after five people were shot and killed in the Hedingham Neighborhood and Nuese River Trail area in Raleigh, N.C., Thursday, Oct. 13, 2022
WRAL was broadcasting footage of the scene, showing the off-duty police officer’s car riddled with bullets.
Baldwin said it was ‘a sad and tragic day for the city of Raleigh’.
The mayor, visibly shaken, continued: ‘It’s a tragic day, because Raleigh police has lost one of its own.’
She said that more must be done to combat gun violence.
‘We must stop this mindless violence in America. We must address gun violence. We have much to do, and tonight we have much to mourn.’
Roy Cooper, the governor of North Carolina, praised law enforcement for their bravery, adding: ‘This is a senseless, infuriating and horrific act of violence that has been carried out against our community.’
ABC 11 said that there was a standoff, with the suspect barricaded in a barn.
A drone was sent into the barn to try and negotiate with the suspect, but the drone malfunctioned, the station said.
A huge emergency response started arriving on the scene at around 5pm.
‘The Raleigh Police Department is currently on the scene of an active shooting in the area of the Neuse River Greenway near Osprey Cove Drive and Bay Harbor Drive,’ the force tweeted.
‘Residents in that area are advised to remain in their homes.’
Patterson said the gun violence seen in Raleigh mirrors trends across the country.
‘I think people are on edge coming out of a pandemic,’ she said.
‘I think we have mental health issues that are also contributing to that. I believe also too what we’re facing as a nation: the war in Ukraine, inflation, gas prices.
‘All those things coupled together, I think results in people wanting to solve their disputes or their issues with gun violence rather than just maybe taking a pause, stepping back, and then re-approaching the situation.’