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The Independent UK
The Independent UK
Graig Graziosi and Gustaf Kilander

Parents of 15-year-old Raleigh shooting suspect say he gave no warning before killing brother and four others

via WRAL

The parents of the 15-year-old suspected gunman who killed five people and wounded two others in a mass shooting in Raleigh, North Carolina, have issued a statement saying they had no warning of the violence he committed.

The statement marks the first official identification of Austin Thomas as the suspect in the 13 October shooting. Authorities have not publicly named him but his identity was previously confirmed by multiple local media outlets.

The suspect was hospitalised with “life-threatening injuries” after allegedly carrying out a mass shooting, in which one of the victims was his 16-year-old brother, James Roger Thompson.

“Words cannot begin to describe our anguish and sorrow,” parents Alan and Elise Thompson said in the statement issued on Tuesday. “Our son Austin inflicted immeasurable pain on the Raleigh community, and we are overcome with grief for the innocent lives lost. We pray for the families and loved ones of Nicole Conners, Susan Karnatz, Mary Marshall, and Raleigh Police Officer Gabriel Torres.”

“We mourn for their loss and for the loss of our son, James,” they added. “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.”

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

Raleigh shooting suspect Austin Thompson (right) is seen with his older brother James (via WRAL)

“I know that their hearts are broken because of what happened. They’re really hurting, too,” Sheila, a neighbour, told ABC11 on Tuesday night.

“I sympathize with them and what they said in a statement,” she added. “They had no clue of him doing anything like that. You can’t just blame them. I just want to know where he got the gun.”

Raleigh Chief of Police Estella Patterson said the 15-year-old was in critical condition when he arrived at WakeMed hospital. He had evaded police for four hours before his arrest.

ABC11 reported on Sunday that he was still in a “grave” condition at that time.

An ambulance believed to be carrying a shooting suspect arrives at Wake Medical Center Emergency Room in Raleigh, N.C., Thursday, Oct. 13, 2022, surrounded by police (AP)

Lorrin Freeman, the Wake County District Attorney, said during a Friday morning press conference that the teen would be tried as an adult despite his age.

“If the subject does survive, we will be proceeding with the intent of sending it to superior court,” she said. “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.”

A statement sent out to families of Knightdale High School, where James was a student, did not include a mention of his brother Austin.

The victims in the shooting have been identified as Nicole Conners, 52, Mary Marshall, 34, Susan Karnatz, 49, Gabriel Torres, 29, and James Thompson, 16.

Two others, Marcille “Lynn” Gardner, 59, and Casey Joseph Clark, 33, were wounded. Ms Gardner is in critical condition, and Mr Clark has been discharged after receiving treatments.

The shooting began on 13 October at around 5pm. It’s unclear when the shooter killed James Thompson, but it is clear he then moved to the nearby Greenway trail and began firing at people walking on the path.

A resident of the neighbourhood named Robert spoke to WRAL and described what he heard and saw before calling 911.

“I heard two gunshots, and they were really loud so I knew something was close by, and then I heard three other gunshots,” he said. “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.”

Raleigh police initially responded to a report of shots fired at a home, and then began searching house to house in the Hedingham neighbourhood for four hours before surrounding the teen around 9.30pm.

Police arrested the teen and transported him to a nearby hospital for treatment. It is unclear if the injuries the shooter sustained were self-inflicted.

Joe Biden issued a statement in the wake of the shooting expressing his condolences to the loved ones of the victims and calling for an assault weapons ban to curb gun violence.

Chief Patterson said on Tuesday that more information would be shared in the police department’s five-day report, which is set to be published on Thursday, and will include a detailed account of the events, as well as the injuries that the gunman sustained and what kind of firearm he used, according to ABC11.

Raleigh city officials have said that a public vigil will take place at 3pm on Sunday outside of the Memorial Auditorium.

At a meeting of the city council, Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin said, “the light that normally shines on Raleigh does not shine as bright”, according to ABC11.

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