Police: North Carolina rampage began when teenager shot brother

RALEIGH, NC (AP) – Police believe the shooting that left five dead in North Carolina’s capital began last week 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 which Raleigh’s police chief gave to the city manager. Such summaries are written within five business days of an officer-involved shooting.

Those who died in the October 13 shooting included an off-duty city police officer who lived in the Hedingham neighborhood where the shootings began, police said. Two others were injured, one of them another community resident, who remains in critical but stable condition, the report said.

Witnesses had described a shooter wearing camouflage, which the report confirmed, firing a shotgun into the subdivision and along a nearby hiking 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 trapped in a barn-like structure more than four hours after the first 911 call. The report said the teenager had traveled nearly 2 miles from where his brother was found shot and stabbed. Police said they exchanged gunfire with that teenager and one officer was injured. The officer was treated at a hospital and released that evening.

The report said officers gave repeated commands to the suspect to surrender and special officers were working to determine his exact location. The police ultimately decided to advance towards the building where he was found.

When officers arrested the teenager, he appeared to have a single gunshot wound and had a gun in his waistband. A shotgun and grenades were located nearby, according to the report. It did not describe how he got the weapons or how he was injured.

The report was released the same day the first memorial service for the victims was held at a Raleigh church — where a basketball jersey and a pair of shorts were placed atop a closed casket.

James Thompson, 16, the youngest of those killed and the brother of Austin Thompson, was “just reaching the age where the whole world opened up to him,” Jeff Roberts, senior pastor of Trinity Baptist Church, said during the service.

“And we remember his life — a life filled with joy and laughter and experiences that shaped him and shaped his future,” the priest said.

When he was younger, James Thompson was a calm and smiling presence in Sunday school, but a tough player in the church’s basketball program. He was a kid who picked up used golf balls from the golf course, cleaned them and resold them.

As he got older, the teenager developed an interest in cooking and wanted to try new ideas after watching YouTube videos of celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay. The teenager loved deep sea fishing. And he began thinking about college, possibly at nearby North Carolina State University.

“We don’t want this moment to define James’ life,” the priest said. “Some of the events of the past week will be part of his story. But I want you to know that it is not his whole story.”

Roberts also spoke aloud the names of the other victims.

“We are a community that is grieving, grieving with this family and grieving with so many other families as well,” Roberts said.

Meanwhile, Austin Thompson remains in critical condition, the report said. His mother said Wednesday that he was being moved to a pediatric intensive care unit. The top local prosecutor has said she will seek to charge the youth as an adult.

The teenager had a backpack containing several types of rifle and shotgun ammunition, the report said, and the sheath for a large knife clipped to his belt. A hunting knife was found at the front of the outbuilding where he was caught, the police said.

Based on the teenager’s estimated direction of travel, police believe James Thompson was shot first, the report said.

“The collective motive for these attacks remains unknown,” the report by Chief Estella Patterson said, adding that there appears to be no connection between the victims who were shot by the suspect before he encountered police, except that they all lived nearby.

According to the report, emergency communications received a 5:09 p.m. call for service based on multiple shots fired near the neighborhood golf course.

Minutes later, a 911 caller reported hearing gunshots and seeing two gunshot victims in front of a house on the same street where the 16-year-old was discovered inside a residence. Police believe the teenager shot Marcille Lynn Gardner, who was found injured in the driveway, and then fired at Nicole Connors, 52, who lived in the home. Connors was shot on his front 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 leaving for work, the report said. Torres, 29, later died at the hospital.

That’s when the teenager fled toward the Neuse River Greenway Trail, the report said, where minutes later a 911 caller found two more victims along the trail, who died at the scene. It was Mary Marshall, 34, who was walking her dog, and Susan Karnatz, 49, who was out jogging.

Officers who had swarmed the area located the teenager 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 several officers returned fire. Raleigh police estimate their officers fired 23 shots. Two city officers who fired their firearms have been placed on administrative leave.

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 something like this.” An attorney for the family did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment on the report.

The Associated Press generally does not name people under the age of 18 who are charged with crimes, but is identifying Austin Thompson because of the seriousness and publicity of the shooting and because his parents voluntarily named him.

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