Raleigh mass shooting suspect 'showing signs of improvement,' mother says

Wednesday, October 19, 2022
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The 15-year-old accused of carrying out a deadly mass shooting in Raleigh is getting better, according to his mother.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- The 15-year-old accused of carrying out a deadly mass shooting in Raleigh is getting better, according to his mother.

Austin Thompson has been identified by his parents as the teen who killed five people and injured two others in a shooting Thursday in the Hedingham neighborhood. A family dog was also killed.

The shooting terrorized the neighborhood for hours, coming to an end only when officers surrounded Thompson and eventually took him into custody. During that apprehension, Thompson was critically injured and had to be taken to the hospital for treatment.

On Wednesday, his mother, Elise, told ABC11 that her son was "showing some signs of improvements." He remains at WakeMed.

Elise and her husband are also the parents of one of the victims killed in the shooting. On Tuesday they released a statement through their attorneys

"Words cannot begin to describe our anguish and sorrow," the statement from Alan and Elise Thompson began. "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."

"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. 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."

The shootings hit the community hard, including at Knightdale High School where Austin is a 10th-grader and his brother James was a senior.

"It's awful," said Michael O'Neil, a Knightdale High student.

James Thompson will be laid to rest Thursday. According to his obituary, he enjoyed spending time with his grandmother, heading to amusement parks, the beach, mountains, sporting events, and playing basketball at his church.

"It's going to take time, healing. They need to get a lot more resources for mental health, a lot more resources. because something went on. we don't know what triggered him," said Raleigh resident Lekisha Riddick. "We may never know."

On Tuesday night, In the Hedingham community, neighbors reacted to the statement issued by the parents.

"I know that their hearts are broken because of what happened. They're really hurting, too," said one neighbor, who was out walking her dog on Castle Pines Drive.

The neighbor, who wanted to be identified only as Sheila, said she remembered seeing the Thompson sons when they were younger.

She also said their father did handy work for a few of her friends.

She said she understands the parent's grief.

"I sympathize with them and what they said in a statement," Sheila said. "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."

Earlier Tuesday, Raleigh Police Chief Estella Patterson briefed Raleigh City Council on the investigation into the shooting that happened Thursday in the Hedingham neighborhood.

Patterson said further details would be released in the department's 5-day report, which is expected to be released Thursday. The report will include a detailed outline of events during the shooting, including the suspect's injuries and what type of weapon was used.

She also said one of the shooting victims is showing improvement and a second has been released from the hospital.

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The chief said the homicide unit has been working around the clock these past five days to "better understand the sequence of events that occurred and the possible motives behind the suspect's actions."

City officials also announced that a public vigil will be held at 3 p.m. Sunday outside the Memorial Auditorium.

SEE ALSO | What we know about those killed in the Hedingham mass shooting

"The light that normally shines on Raleigh does not shine as bright," Raleigh Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin said at the council meeting.

The city also announced that it is creating a website that will offer support resources to the families and the greater Raleigh community.