A crazed 45-year-old gunman killed a staffer and at least seven elderly patients at a North Carolina nursing home Sunday, marking yet another bloody day in March.
This morning, police scrambled to explain why the alleged shooter, Robert Stewart, had carried out the violent spree, particularly since he was not an employee of the Pinelake Health and Rehab Center in Carthage, N.C., and did not appear to know any of the deceased patients, who ranged from 78 to 98 years old.
Jerry Avant, a 39-year-old registered nurse, was the employee who was killed in the shooting. He reportedly had been shot more than two dozen times.
"There is still more to be uncovered as far as his purpose in being there," Moore County District Attorney Maureen Krueger said. Witnesses told TV station WRAL in Raleigh that Stewart was armed with a rifle, shotgun and other weapons. Justin Garner, the officer who stopped him, "acted in nothing short of a heroic manner" and probably stopped the carnage from being worse, Krueger said.
Carthage is about 60 miles southwest of Raleigh.
When it comes to multiple shootings, March has been one of the bloodiest months in recent memories. In recent weeks an Alabama man killed 10 people before being killed by police; a man in a southern Illinois church killed the pastor and stabbed two parishioners; a gunman killed four Oakland, Calif., police officer in a shootout; and a 17-year-old in Germany killed 15 people in two small towns before dying in a shootout with police.