Fiancé of Hedingham mass shooting victim announces candidacy for Raleigh City Council

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Monday, July 24, 2023
Fiancé of Hedingham mass shooting victim to run for office
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The man whose fiancée was killed during the Hedingham mass shooting in 2022 announced he was running for Raleigh City Council.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- The man whose fiancée was killed during the Hedingham mass shooting in 2022 announced he was running for Raleigh City Council.

Robert Steele lost the love of his life, Mary Marshall, when 15-year-old Austin Thompson went on a shooting spree. Thompson shot seven people, killing five, including his own brother James.

Thompson was captured hours later after a shootout with police. He was seriously injured. He spent multiple weeks in the hospital but ultimately survived.

Steele turned his mourning into motivation. He found himself with a platform he never wished to have, but instead of letting it go to waste, he's using it to try and improve his community.

"I ask myself every day, 'What would Mary want me to do when I get up in the morning?'" Steele said in an interview with ABC11 a little over a month after the tragedy. "She would not want me to just sit and wallow. She would want me to honor her memory, to honor the memories of the others killed in Hedingham, the others that have been killed in other shootings."

After the shooting, Steele called for greater access to mental health resources and urged City Council to implement a text alert system that could be used during active shootings to warn bystanders.

On his campaign website, Steele cites the City Council's failure to make any changes following the Hedingham shooting as a motivation to run for office himself.

"We have a representative government that is not doing a good job of representing us, or giving us much of a chance to advocate for ourselves. My vision for the city is a truly representative government, where you are given meaningful opportunities to have your desires heard and acted upon," his website reads.

But Steele's goals for the city stretch well beyond curbing violent crime.

"We're still losing 4,000 affordable housing units per year. Despite what the council has been working on, obviously what they're doing is not working. I's time that somebody came in with some new ideas that could be more effective than what they've already tried," he said.

Steele's stated main reason for running is to represent a community that showed him so much incredible support during the hardest time of his life.

"Why I'm doing it has more to do with the help that I got after the shooting than it does with continuing to help myself now. This is more about paying forward all the help that I got after the shooting."

The election for Raleigh City Council is not until 2024; it's still too early for candidates to even officially file the paperwork necessary to enter the race.

"Officially filing for candidacy doesn't happen until July of next year. However, what I have done is I've organized my campaign committee I've had a website created and an announcement video," he said.

Steele said he would be running for one of the two at-large seats on the city council.