Raleigh, NC shooting: Suspect likely killed his 16-year-old brother first, according to preliminary report


Investigators believe a 15-year-old boy accused of killing five people and wounding two in last week’s shooting in North Carolina’s capital killed his older brother first, according to a preliminary police report released Thursday.

Authorities have not yet learned the suspect’s motive in the Oct. 13 shootings in a Raleigh neighborhood. The police found him with a gunshot wound and he is hospitalized in a critical condition, according to the city manager’s preliminary report to the chief of police.

The report does not name the suspect or a 16-year-old who police believe was the first victim. But their parents have identified the suspect as Austin Thompson, and the teenage victim as his brother, James Thompson.

The suspect has not been charged. However, Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman has said her office intends to charge the 15-year-old as an adult.

Based on investigators’ beliefs about the suspect’s direction of travel — from a home in the Hedingham subdivision, through the neighborhood and then onto a greenway — they believe the 16-year-old was attacked first, the preliminary report said.

The 16-year-old, who was found dead in a home in the subdivision, was shot once and stabbed multiple times, according to the report.

Investigators believe the suspect then wounded Marcille Gardner, 59, who was found in her driveway in the subdivision. The suspect then fatally wounded Nicole Connors, 52, and killed her dog on their front porch, and shot and killed an off-duty Raleigh police officer, 29-year-old Gabriel Torres, in his personal car on his way to work, according to the report.

Sue Karnatz and Mary Marshall were among the five people killed in Raleigh last week.

The suspect ran to the greenway, where he killed Mary Marshall, 35, who was walking her dog, and Susan Karnatz, 49, who was out jogging, according to the report.

“Based on the information currently available, there does not appear to be any connection between the victims shot by the suspect prior to his encounter with police, other than they lived in the same neighborhood,” the report adds.

About 90 minutes after the initial 911 calls, police found the suspect in an area with two outbuildings on the property, the report said. An officer who was shot when the suspect opened fire from one of the outbuildings was the last shooting victim.

Police returned fire and rescued the officer, said the report, which added that Raleigh officers fired 23 shots.

Officers then established a perimeter “due to concerns about the nature of the weapons he possessed, to include multiple firearms, as well as possible hand grenades as reported in a 911 call.”

When police moved in about three hours later, they found the suspect with a shotgun and grenades nearby, according to the report. He had a gun in his waistband and an empty knife sheath clipped to his belt. A knife was found in front of the building, the report adds.

The suspect was shot once, the report said.

The two Raleigh police officers who fired their weapons are on administrative duty, according to the report.

The report, which city officials typically file five days after a law enforcement-involved shooting, also says police will request to obtain “agency footage” of the two officers who used the weapons and the officer who was injured during the search . In North Carolina, a judge must rule on the release of body camera videos.

The suspect’s parents released a statement through their lawyers on Wednesday saying they are devastated by the loss of innocent life, including the death of their son James.

“Our son Austin caused the Raleigh community immeasurable pain and we are overwhelmed with grief for the innocent lives lost,” Alan and Elise Thompson said in the statement obtained by CNN affiliate WTVD. “Words cannot begin to describe our anguish and sorrow.”

The suspect’s parents say they don’t understand why the mass tragedy happened.

“We have so many unanswered questions,” reads the Thompsons’ statement. “There were never any indications or warning signs that Austin was capable of doing anything like this.”

Mourners gather at Beacon Baptist Church for a vigil after five people were shot in Raleigh.

The parents said they will continue to cooperate with law enforcement “and do what we can to help them understand why and how this happened.”

According to the non-profit Gun Violence Archive, as of Tuesday, there have been at least 546 mass shootings in the United States this year. That’s an average of more than 1.8 mass shootings every day.

Both the Gun Violence Archive and CNN define a mass shooting as one in which at least four people are shot, excluding the shooter.

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