RALEIGH, North Carolina (AP) — A 15-year-old boy shot and killed two people in the streets of a neighborhood in North Carolina’s capital, then fled to a walking path where he opened fire, killing three other people and injuring two others, police said on Friday.
Raleigh Police Chief Estella Patterson said the teenager was hospitalized in critical condition after the shooting late Thursday afternoon. Authorities had not determined a motive.
The victims were of different races and ranged in age from 16 to their late 50s, Patterson told a news conference. Among the dead is Raleigh Police Officer Gabriel Torres, 29, who was off duty and on his way to work when the shooting began. Police have identified the other victims as follows: Nicole Conners, 52; Marie Marshall, 34; Susan Karnatz, 49; and James Roger Thompson, 16.
Marcille Lynn Gardner, 59, was injured and remained hospitalized Friday in critical condition. A second officer, Casey Joseph Clark, 33, was injured and released from hospital.
The teenager, who was not immediately identified by police, eluded officers for hours before being cornered in a house and arrested, police said. Officials did not say how he was injured.
The shooting sparked a massive police response and a manhunt, with police scouring an area of more than 3 kilometers to find and capture the teenager, Patterson said.
Governor Roy Cooper called the shooting a “maddening and tragic act of gun violence.”
“Today we are sad, we are angry and we want to know the answers to all the questions,” Cooper said. “I think we all know the basic truth – no neighborhood, no parent, no child, no grandparent, no one should feel this fear in their community – no one.”
The gunfire broke out around 5 p.m. in a residential area northeast of downtown, Raleigh Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin said. Officers from multiple law enforcement agencies swarmed the area, closing roads and warning residents to stay indoors while they searched for the shooter.
The River Neuse greenway runs just behind the backs of houses in the Hedingham area where the shooting began. The trail runs approximately 27 miles (43 kilometers) along the river and connects to the state’s Mountains-to-Sea Trail, popular with hikers. The stretch behind the neighborhood is paved and sits on a grassy slope of houses.
Karnatz’s husband, Tom Karnatz, said she was an avid runner who often ran the greenway.
“She was a very loving wife and an incredible mother to our three sons,” he said in tears as he opened the door to the family home on Friday. “We are heartbroken and miss her very much.”
In the driveway, a silver van and a Toyota Camry had matching 26.2 stickers, symbolizing marathon miles. The van’s license plate simply read: “RUNNR”.
Woodrow Glass, a 74-year-old retiree, was a neighbor of Conners in the neighborhood where the shooting occurred. He said the shooting highlights the need for policies to prevent minors from having guns. Although it is unclear what type of weapon was used, Glass noted that the weapon had enough power to cause several deaths.
“Why would a child have a gun like that? That he could cause so many deaths, you know? said Glass.
Raleigh Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin said the shooting underscored the need to “end the senseless gun violence that is gripping our country and now our city.”
“We have to do something,” she said.
Under North Carolina law, crimes committed by a 15-year-old are usually tried in juvenile court. But a juvenile court judge must transfer the case to Superior Court for the youngster to be tried as an adult if the 15-year-old is charged with first-degree murder and determines that there is probable cause that the suspect committed the crime. Authorities have not commented on what charges the suspect may face.
The Raleigh shooting was the latest in a violent week across the country. Five people were killed Sunday in a shooting at a home in Inman, South Carolina. On Wednesday evening, two police officers were fatally shot in Connecticut after apparently to be ambushed by an emergency call concerning possible domestic violence. Police officers were shot dead this week in Greenville, Mississippi; Decatur, Illinois; philadelphia cream, Vegas and central florida. Two of those officers, one in Greenville and one in Las Vegas, were killed.
Thursday’s violence was the 25th massacre in 2022 in which victims were shot and killed, according to the Associated Press/USA TODAY/Northeastern University Mass Killings database. A mass murder is defined as when four or more people are killed excluding the perpetrator.
Brooke Medina, who lives in the neighborhood bordering the Greenway, was driving home around 5:15 p.m. Thursday when she saw about two dozen police cars, marked and unmarked, racing towards the residential area about 14 kilometers away of Raleigh. downtown.
She and her husband, who were working from home with their four children, began reaching out to neighbors and realized there was a shelter-in-place order.
The family closed all their blinds, locked the doors and gathered in an upstairs hallway, said Medina, who works as vice president of communications at a think tank. The family listened to the police scanner and watched local news before heading back down once the danger appeared to have cleared their home.
Associated Press writers Denise Lavoie in Richmond, Va.; Stefanie Dazio in Los Angeles; Michael Kunzelman in Silver Spring, Maryland; and Allen G. Breed in Raleigh contributed to this report.