North Carolina Shooting Rampage

March 30, 2009 12:08:33 PM PDT
The man suspected of killing eight people in a shooting rampage at a nursing home on Sunday is in custody after being wounded by a policeman. Authorities won't say what kind of shape he's in.North Carolina police are trying to determine just why 45-year-old Robert Stewart allegedly targeted the Carthage nursing home. One possible motive, Stewart's estranged wife was an employee of the facility.

During a press conference Monday morning, police described the initial moments after shots rang out.

"Unimaginable. Um, I don't know what other words but horrific. Everything that you could possibly imagine," said Chief Chris McKenzie with the Carthage Police Department.

Police said Stewart was armed with several weapons when he stormed into the Pinelake Health and Rehabilitation facility, killing eight people.

"He was very calm had a very calm demeanor very deliberate, he just leveled the gun and pointed at my truck," said Michael Cotton.

"I got down behind my bed pulled the phone down on the floor and called 911," said resident Helen Olive.

Sue Griffin, Stewarts ex-wife of 15 years said after years of dealing with his heavy drinking, reclusive behavior, and rage, the rampage was no surprise. "I couldn't believe it, then I stopped thought about it and thought it is possible, it's possible."

Among the victims was 39-year-old Jerry Avant a caretaker at the facility. Avant had just completed his tests to become a registered nurse. "He was a good boy. I loved him. I loved him to death. Everyone did he was a companion friend nurse," said Jerry Avant Sr., the victim's father.

Officer Justin Garner was first to respond to the scene. He exchanged shots with Stewart in the hallway. Stewart was injured. Garner was shot in the leg. His actions may have saved the lives of many. "He prevented it from getting worse than it is now," said Moore County District Attorney Maureen Krueger.

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