Eight people dead after shooting in North Carolina nursing home

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Monday, March 30, 2009

At least eight people have been killed on Monday after a gunman entered a Carthage, North Carolina nursing home and opened fire on its residents.

Local police reported that Robert Stewart, a 45-year-old man, entered the Pinelake health and rehabilitation centre, which gives care to Alzheimer's disease patients, and shot a nurse and seven patients to death. Six of the victims were killed at the scene. The others died later at a local hospital. The ages of the patients were between 78 and 98.

The alleged gunman also wounded two other people, among them a visitor and a policeman, who confronted the gunman in a hallway and stopped the rampage. The suspect himself was injured before being arrested by police. His condition is currently not known.

"He [the policeman] acted in nothing short of a heroic way today, and but for his actions, we certainly could have had a worse tragedy. We had an officer, a well-trained officer, who performed his job the way he was supposed to and prevented this from getting even worse than it is now," said Maureen Krueger, the Moore County District Attorney.

"This is a small community built on faith, and faith will get us through," said Chris McKenzie, the Carthage police chief. "It's a horrible event in any size town, particularly, though, when you deal with a small town such as Carthage. It's hard. This is my home, my small town. I was born and raised here so I take it to heart a little bit. All you can do is move forward."

The victims of the shooting have been identified. They are: Bessie Hendrick, 78; John Goldston, 78; Jessie Musser, 88; Tessie Gardner, 88; Lillian Dunn, 89; Margaret Johnston, 89; Louise Decker, 98; and Jerry Avent, the nurse.

Carthage is located approximately sixty miles southwest of North Carolina's capital of Raleigh. According to the 2000 census, it has a population of 1,871. The Pinelake nursing home, where the attack occurred, contains 110 beds and has both short and long term patients.