RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — An avid runner and the mother of three boys. A woman who was the “rock” of her family and knew everyone in the neighborhood. A Navy veteran whose wedding was two weeks away.
These were among the victims of a shooting rampage in North Carolina’s capital city, Raleigh, that claimed five lives and wounded two others.
The calm order of the day was shattered around 5 p.m., police say, when a 15-year-old boy opened fire, killing a total of five people in Raleigh’s Hedingham neighborhood and along the nearby Neuse River Greenway. Another of those slain was a police officer who was headed off to work in North Carolina’s capital.
Another Raleigh police officer also was wounded as well as a woman who remained in critical condition on Friday.
Among the dead were:
Connors, 52, was the matriarch of her extended family, the one who “got things done,” her husband Tracey Howard told The Associated Press.
When her father died, she was the one who went to Veterans Affairs to straighten things out — using “choice words” — to ensure he was buried in a veterans cemetery, Howard said. She also left her job in human resources to care for her mother after she had a stroke.
“Anything that had to be done, she was going to do it,” Howard said. “And she was going to make sure it was done right.”
Connors and her husband liked to get out of the house and explore Raleigh’s restaurant scene. They had tickets for the next Black Panther film, coming out in November, and planned to go to the North Carolina State Fair this weekend.
Late Thursday afternoon, Howard left the house to get food for lunch — he works the third shift — and to buy a lightbulb for the porch. Connors had taken a friend to Red Lobster to celebrate her friend’s birthday before coming home.
“She couldn’t have been home more than five or 10 minutes before this happened,” Howard said.
Connors and a neighbor, who was still in critical condition on Friday, were shot, Howard said.
“Her friend was more or less by the driveway like she was about to go home or was on her way home, and my wife was on the porch,” Howard said.
Howard is left to wonder what motivated the shooting.
“It is just a senseless killing,” he said. “People outside enjoying the weather, talking. Next thing you know they’re gone. It’s just stupid. It’s senseless.”
Connors’ neighbors said she was always friendly while walking her Jack Russell terrier, Sami.
“All these shootings right now are all coming from kids that are under 19 years old,” said neighbor Joshua Phillips. They “have no business owning a gun, period. And you can’t blame the law-abiding citizens on that.”
Marvin Judd said Connors was a “sweet person” with a “good heart.”
“And she was always kind and gentle to everybody she met,” Judd said. “She didn’t meet strangers. Everybody was a friend to her.”
Judd added: “This didn’t have to happen. But people don’t realize. Satan is loose up on the Earth. And he’s taking out as many victims as he can.”
Her husband, Tom Karnatz, told the AP that she “was a very loving wife and amazing mother to our three sons. We’re absolutely heartbroken and miss her dearly.”
Karnatz, 49, was an avid runner who frequented the greenway where some of the shootings occurred. Two cars parked in the driveway had matching 26.2 stickers – marking the mileage of a marathon. The license plate of a minivan said “RUNNR.”
In a Facebook post, Tom Karnatz wrote that he and his wife had big — and little — plans together.
“We had plans together for big adventures,” he wrote. “And plans together for the mundane days in between. We had plans together with the boys. And we had plans together as empty nesters. We had plans together for growing old … Now those plans are laid to waste.”
Marshall, 34, was killed while walking her dog Scruff and was supposed to get married on Oct. 29, her sister told NBC News.
“Her fiancé Rob, he was just the love of her life,” Meaghan McCrickard told NBC. “I think we’re going to still do a celebration of life, that’s the plan, for the date of the wedding.”
“She’s got a friend coming from Japan, somebody coming from Florida, from Texas,” McCrickard said. “As excited as she was to be married, I know she was more excited to have all the people she loved the most at the same place at the same time.”
When the shooting started, Marshall was walking Scruff on the Neuse River Greenway, her sister told NBC.
“She had called her fiancé Rob and said, ‘I’m walking the dog, I’m hearing these gunshots, can you come home?’ And that was the last conversation that they had,” McCrickard said.
Marshall’s step-grandmother, Donna Marshall, told the Raleigh News & Observer that Mary had served in the Navy and attended culinary school before moving back to the Raleigh area three years ago.
“She loved to go to the beach, and she was an absolute fanatic about Disney World,” Donna Marshall told the newspaper.
Scruff had effectively chosen Marshall as his owner when he sat on her lap at an animal shelter, her step-grandmother said.
“It’s going to be extremely difficult for her mom and dad and her sister and her close family,” Donna Marshall said. “It’s just going to be awful.”
Torres, 29, was on his way to work when he was fatally shot in the Hedingham neighborhood, police said. Raleigh Police Chief Estella D. Patterson said Torres was not in uniform or in his patrol car at the time of the shooting, according to the News & Observer.
Torres leaves behind a wife and child, the chief said. Torres was on the job for 18 months. Before that, he served as a U.S. Marine at Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville.
The Raleigh Police Protective Association, an advocacy group for officers, said in a statement on Friday that it’s “in the process of setting up fundraising efforts that are approved and authorized by the family.”
“We ask all of you to please pray and keep in your thoughts Officer Torres and the other victims of this senseless act of evil,” the organization said on Facebook.
Thompson, 16, was a junior at Knightdale High School in Raleigh, according to a statement from Principal Keith Richardson.
“It is an unexpected loss and we are saddened by it,” Richardson said. “Our condolences, thoughts, and prayers go out to James’ family, the other victims, their families and all who have been impacted by yesterday’s events.”
The school board chair and superintendent of the Wake County Public School System issued a statement that said they are “shocked, saddened and broken-hearted.”
“Our hearts go out to the victims’ loved ones, and our community continues to seek answers around this tragedy and solutions to prevent such unspeakable events in the future,” the statement said.
Finley reported from Norfolk, Virginia.