Sunday morning, I was iChatting with a friend in Texas when both of us heard the siren. I watched a sheriff’s deputy come up the road in front of my house. He had to be going at least 100 m.p.h. We wondered where he could be going, and we said a prayer for the situation.
A couple hours later, looking for weather, I found out where he had been going. A lone gunman had gone into one of our area nursing homes. At that time, six people were dead; later, two more died. Most of the victims were elderly patients of the nursing home – the oldest was 98 years old. One RN, a former Coast Guardsman, age 39, was also killed.
The gunman was stopped when one Carthage police officer, Justin Garner, came after him, unassisted, and shot him. The officer sustained three wounds to his left foot and leg; he was treated and released from our local hospital, although he’ll still have to have some outpatient surgery, we’re told, to complete his recovery. Robert Stewart, the gunman, is in custody; his injuries are not life-threatening.
WRAL television in Raleigh has done a decent job of covering this event. I’ve been watching the news briefings with the chief of police in Carthage and the county District Attorney.
Our community is simply stunned. This is not the sort of thing that happens here. When Chief Chris McKenzie was asked how many police officers were on duty, Sunday morning, there was a bit of shock registered when he said, “Two.” But then he went on to say, for the community of approximately 2,000 residents, “This is a community built on faith. On Sunday morning, everyone’s in church.”
In his first interview with the press about the incident, McKenzie, who is a local, said, “This is a community based on faith, and faith will see us through this.”
This is beyond belief. From where I’m sitting now, I can see the heath care center where my grandmother lived for the last few years of her life. I keep thinking, thinking, “What if that happened here?” or “How could that possibly happen?” or “Things like that don’t happen in small towns.” Mostly, I wonder WHY?
Be assured of my prayers and sympathy for all involved.