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The Guardian - US
The Guardian - US
Sam Levine in New York

North Carolina shooting suspect’s parents say they’re ‘overcome with grief’

A makeshift memorial at Raleigh’s Hedingham neighborhood entrance sign in North Carolina.
A makeshift memorial at Raleigh’s Hedingham neighborhood entrance sign in North Carolina. Photograph: Travis Long/AP

The parents of a 15-year-old suspected mass murderer in Raleigh, North Carolina, released a statement Wednesday saying they were “overcome with grief”.

Austin Thompson is suspected of shooting five people to death and injuring two others on 13 October in Raleigh’s Hedingham neighborhood. His 16-year-old brother, James, was among those slain.

“Our son Austin inflicted immeasurable pain on the Raleigh community, and we are overcome with grief for the innocent lives lost,” Alan and Elise Thompson said in a statement on behalf of their family, according to the Raleigh News & Observer. “We have so many unanswered questions. There were never any indications or warning signs that Austin was capable of doing anything like this. Our family will continue to cooperate fully with law enforcement officials and do whatever we can to help them understand why and how this happened.”

Austin Thompson is in the custody of law enforcement while being treated at a hospital. The local district attorney, Lorrin Freeman, has said she plans to prosecute the teen as an adult, WRAL reported.

Those killed in the attack – carried out with a long rifle – were Gabriel Torres, a 29-year-old off-duty police officer; Mary Marshall, a 34-year-old woman walking her dog; Nicole Connors, a 52-year-old woman who was on her porch; and Susan Karnatz, 49, who was killed during a run.

Raleigh police officer Casey Clark and Marcille “Lynn” Gardner were wounded.

“We pray for the families and loved ones of Nicole Connors, Susan Karnatz, Mary Marshall and Raleigh police officer Gabriel Torres,” the Thompson family said in a statement. “We mourn for their loss and for the loss of our son, James.

“We pray that Marcille ‘Lynn’ Gardner and Raleigh Police Officer Casey Clark fully recover from their injuries, and we pray for everyone who was traumatized by these senseless acts of violence.”

There have been 546 mass shootings – cases in which at least four people were shot or killed – in the US this year, according to a tally by the Gun Violence archive.

Two of the most high-profile of those shootings were carried out in May by rifle-toting gunmen who were adults still in their teens: the killings of 10 people at a grocery store in Buffalo and 21 at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.

Joe Biden has since signed the first federal gun safety bill in nearly 30 years, which aimed to toughen background checks for the youngest gun buyers, keep firearms from more domestic violence offenders and help states implement laws making it easier for officials to confiscate weapons from people adjudged to be dangerous.

But other more stringent restrictions, such as a ban on assault-style weapons, did not make it into that bill.

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