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'Motive for these attacks is still unknown': Raleigh officials release report on mass shooting

Police cruiser in Raleigh neighborhood
Matt Ramey
for WUNC
A Raleigh Police vehicle is parked in the Hedingham neighborhood
on Friday, October 14, 2022, the morning after five people were killed in a mass shooting nearby.

Updated at 8:30 p.m.

Raleigh police on Thursday released a preliminary report on amass shooting that left five people dead and two others injured.

On Oct. 13, residents in the Hedingham neighborhood in northeast Raleigh were forced to shelter inside for hours as police pursued a 15-year-old male suspect — now identified as Austin Thompson, the younger brother of one of the victims.

Raleigh police spent days collecting and analyzing information from the shooting. In the report released to the public, Raleigh's Police Chief Estella Patterson writes that the "collective motive" for the attack by the suspect "is still unknown."

The report details weapons found at the scene, and lays out a timeline for the attacks. The investigations into the shooting are ongoing, the report says.

What the report reveals about the shooting

In the report sent to Raleigh City Manager Marchell Adams-David, Chief Patterson indicates that the victims were likely not connected.

"Based on information currently available, there does not appear to be any connection between the victims that were shot by the suspect prior to his encounter with the police other than they lived in the same neighborhood," Patterson writes.

The police report presents a probable route that the suspect took, and outlines what the police believe was the order in which the suspect attacked the victims: first, 16-year-old James Thompson; then, Marcille Gardner (injured), Nicole Connors and her dog, Officer Gabriel Torres, Mary Marshall, Susan Karnatz, and Casey Joseph Clark (injured).

The first victim, James Thompson, suffered multiple stab wounds in addition to a gunshot wound, the report says. In a statement issued on Tuesday, Oct. 18, the parents of the 15-year-old suspect Austin Thompson confirmed James is Austin's older brother.

Raleigh Police
In a Five-Day-Report analyzing the details surrounding the mass shooting in Raleigh on October 13, police lay out a believed route the 15-year-old suspect followed.

The timeline from Raleigh police presents some clarity, and raises questions, about the response to the shooting.

The police report says the first 911 call came in at approximately 5:09 p.m. Police arrived in the neighborhood at approximately 5:19 p.m. It took about 1 hour 23 minutes until police were able to locate the suspect — at approximately 6:42 p.m. — in an area with two barn-like structures near McConnell Oliver Drive.

Raleigh police waited approximately 45 minutes after the initial 911 call before they issued the first social media alert notifying the public of an active shooting.

As of Thursday, Oct. 20 afternoon, shooting victim Marcille Gardner remains in critical but stable condition, police say. The suspect remains in critical condition in the hospital.

The police report did not highlight how the suspect came to possess his weapons.

An ongoing investigation

The State Bureau of Investigation is conducting an investigation into the actions of the officers involved in the shooting. This is a relatively common procedure when police are involved in shootings in North Carolina. The SBI will present a completed investigation to the Wake County District Attorney for review. The SBI does not release any information from investigations directly to the public, but some of that information could be released by local agencies.

In addition, to the SBI's investigation, the Detective Division of the Raleigh Police Department is conducting a criminal investigation of the actions of the suspect, the police report says. And finally, the Internal Affairs Unit will carry out an investigation to determine whether departmental procedures and policies were followed.

A timeline of events

The police report, as well as reports from media outlets, offer context for how the shooting played out.

  • 5:09 p.m. — Raleigh’s Emergency Communications Center receives a call regarding multiple shots fired in the vicinity of the golf course in the Hedingham neighborhood, the report reads.
  • 5:12 p.m. — According to the police report, a 911 caller reports hearing shots and seeing two people lying on the ground and porch in the 5300 block of Sahalee Way. Police later discover this to be Marcille Gardner and Nicole Connors. A dog belonging to Connors was also found dead nearby. Connors died at the hospital.
  • "Shortly after" — Another 911 call is received regarding a shooting in the 6000 block of Osprey Cove Drive in the same neighborhood, according to the police report. It is then reported that Raleigh Police Officer Gabriel Torres had been shot while sitting inside of his personal vehicle by a young male wearing camouflage clothes.
  • 5:15 p.m. — Brooke Medina says she was driving home at around 5:15 p.m. when she saw about two dozen police cars, both marked and unmarked, race toward her neighborhood as she got off the highway, the AP reports. She then saw ambulances speeding the other direction, toward the closest hospital.
  • 5:19 p.m. — Officers begin responding to calls and arriving in the Hedingham neighborhood, according to police. Officers soon received a description and photo of the suspect.
  • 5:21 p.m. — Officials receive another 911 call. The caller discovered two more victims at separate locations along the greenway. Police discovered Mary Marshall and Susan Karnatz, who were both pronounced dead at the scene. Police then begin an extensive search for the suspect, using federal and state assistance and deploying K-9 units, the police report outlines.
  • 5:55 p.m. — Forty-six minutes after the initial call to EMS, Raleigh Police issue their first social mediaalert notifying the public of an active shooting. They call for nearby residents to remain in their homes.
  • 6:42 p.m. — Police find the suspect near two “barn-like” structures near McConnell Oliver Drive.
  • 6:44 p.m. —The suspect fires multiple shots at police. Officer Casey Clark falls to the ground after suffering a gunshot wound. Officers pull him to safety. Law enforcement at the scene – including Sgt. K.M. Smithey and Officer D.M. Garner of the Raleigh Police Department – returned fire at the suspect. Officers then established a perimeter and began de-escalation efforts with the suspect.
  • 6:49 p.m. — Raleigh PD sends out a social media alert advizing those living in the areas of McConnell Oliver Drive, Tarheel Club Drive, and Old Milburnie Road to stay indoors and for drivers to "avoid the area and seek alternate routes."
  • 9:34 p.m. — Officers with the Selective Enforcement Unit advanced toward the building where the suspect was hiding. The suspect was found lying on the ground and suffering from a gunshot wound. He was carrying a handgun in his waistband, and a shotgun, shotgun and rifle ammunition, and a large hunting knife were found in the building where he was arrested.
  • 9:36 p.m. — Officers secure the suspect in handcuffs.
  • 9:37 p.m. — Raleigh police alert the public via social media that the shooting suspect is in custody.

    At an undisclosed time, police also discovered 16-year-old James Thompson in a residence located in the 5300 block of Sahalee Way. He was pronounced dead at the scene with apparent gunshot wounds and stab wounds. Police believe he was the gunman’s first victim.

Laura Pellicer is a digital reporter with WUNC’s small but intrepid digital news team.
Jason deBruyn is WUNC's Supervising Editor for Digital News, a position he took in 2024. He has been in the WUNC newsroom since 2016 as a reporter.
Mitchell Northam is a Digital Producer for WUNC. His past work has been featured at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, SB Nation, the Orlando Sentinel and the Associated Press. He is a graduate of Salisbury University and is also a voter in the AP Top 25 poll for women's college basketball.
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