DA: North Carolina mass shooter’s gunshot wound was self-inflicted

Published 5:46 am Wednesday, December 21, 2022

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By Hannah Schoenbaum, Associated Press/Report for America

The teenage suspect of a shooting rampage in northeast Raleigh that killed five people and injured two others suffered from a nonfatal, self-inflicted gunshot wound when he was captured by a tactical robot hours after a shootout with police, according to the Wake County district attorney.

In reviewing law enforcement videos, police reports and crime scene evidence, District Attorney Lorrin Freeman has determined officers’ use of force in apprehending the armed suspect was “lawful” and does not warrant further investigation. She directed the State Bureau of Investigation to end its procedural criminal investigation into the officers on Monday.

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“During efforts to take the juvenile into custody, law enforcement utilized deadly force only in response to deadly force being used,” Freeman said. “State law provides for the use of deadly force by law enforcement under these circumstances. No further investigation into the use of force is required at this time.”

Officers spent several hours searching for the suspect, later identified by his parents as 15-year-old Austin Thompson, after police say he fatally shot his 16-year-old brother and multiple neighbors, opened fire along the Neuse River Greenway trail and barricaded himself in a shed about a mile from the Hedingham neighborhood.

Freeman has said she will seek to charge the suspect as an adult.

Recently released body camera footage of a police shootout with the teen shows multiple shots ring out from the shed, striking one officer in the knee, and police return fire. Evidence collected at the scene suggests he was suffering from a self-inflicted gunshot wound when captured, Freeman reveled in a statement this week.

Crime scene evidence found that the rounds fired by law enforcement did not strike the teen, who has since been released from WakeMed and moved to a juvenile detention facility.

At the time of the shootout, she said, law enforcement was aware that multiple individuals had been killed and that the juvenile assailant was still at large. He was found with a handgun in his waistband, and a shotgun, shells and a hunting knife lying nearby, according to the police report.

A court order was obtained to access the suspect’s medical records, Freeman said. Her office will share additional information if that review reveals a different conclusion.

A lawyer for the teen’s family did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.