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Police: Man shoots wife, then kills mother, himself

Posted June 11, 2008

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— Rocky Mount police were investigating two shootings by the same suspect Wednesday, one of them fatal.

Investigators said they believe Thomas Willis Smith, 58, shot and killed his mother, Emma Smith, 89, in her room at Guardian Care of Rocky Mount before turning the gun on himself just after 8:30 a.m.

Thomas Smith was found unconcious in his mother's room. He was taken to Pitt Memorial Hospital in Greenville and died at about 1 p.m.

At approximately 8:15 a.m., paramedics had responded to 116 Ketch Point Court, where they found Marsha Smith, 52. She told paramedics she suffered an injury to her head and they took her to Nash General Hospital, where doctors determined she had been shot in the head. She was in stable condition at Pitt Memorial on Wednesday afternoon.

Marsha Smith is Tomas Smith's wife. According to police, the shootings – one at his home and the second at the nursing home – took place about 15 minutes apart.

Guardian Care released a statement citing "a sad and tragic incident" that was "completely unforeseeable."

A supervisor at the home said Emma Smith had been living there for about two years and that she was alone in her room with her son at the time of the shooting.

He added that no changes to security were planned because Guardian Care administrators believe this was an isolated incident.

According to the statement, Guardian Care planned to offer counseling to residents, families or employees who needed it.

Visitors at Guardian Care Wednesday were torn over how the home handled the case.

One woman said she had visited her mother and was satisfied with her safety. "You can't put the place on lockdown," she said.

"I feel like they should have more security, you know, check people going in and out," relative Annie Hill countered.

27 Comments

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  • anne53ozzy Jun 12, 2008

    My father was in one of the best homes in durham for a year until he died. The care was outstanding....It was an exclusive facility but even so I was there at least once a day to check on him, as he could not speak.
    A nursing facility is not a replacement for a family.
    One has to be there to assure that the best care is given to the one you love. The people who work in these homes cannot be expected to understand the nuance or the nature of your loved one if you are not there to participate.
    This has nothing to do w murder, etc. I am tired of the bashing of elder care facilities because adult children do not want to take the time to look after their parent.
    No one knows your mom or dad like you do....
    If you can't keep them in your home or theirs, at least be there for them

  • haggis basher Jun 12, 2008

    "Why he did such a horrible thing may never be known."
    Probably because was suffering from depression. Rational reasons don't really have to apply but going everyday and watching your mother perhaps suffer a long lingering death might crack most folks.

  • dukebbfan Jun 12, 2008

    This was a terrible tradgey and my sympathy goes out to the family and workers who help take care of this lady. What happen there has nothing to do with security. This wasnt some stranger who walked in off the street and just picked and room. This was her son who visited her daily so why would anyone think that he was going to go and kill his mom. Why he did such a horrible thing may never be known.

  • murdock Jun 12, 2008

    "i think that the best way to get the most of any nursing home is to be an active and involved family member to the resident living there. Sometimes it's a decision you have no choice but to make and sometimes you don't have a choice of location. But regardless of the location, you must be diligent and active for your family member." - Amen TO THAT!!!

    For the record, I don't defend Guardian Care just because I have patients there. I defend it because I see the progress made and feel it is a good place now. Just look at the recent evaluations - the last one in November showed a deficiency only for not knocking on a patient's door. There are worse things that could happen.

  • davidgnews Jun 11, 2008

    It is sad that things like this never happen in reverse order, if they have to happen at all.

  • Myword Jun 11, 2008

    I in no way agree with his actions, but those of you who have not faced the prolonged emotional and financial damage that dealing with nursing home world causes a family are lucky people indeed.

  • If the shoe fits.... Jun 11, 2008

    I know this Guardian Care first hand and agree that care in this particular facility is not the best, but due to the lackidaisical attitude of the aides, I thought - not a problem with the nurses or administration. When the aides speak to you from the doorway (not come to your bedside) and look over your head when they speak to you, joke loudly in the hallway....I moved my loved one....
    In their defense, however, I was in and out of the facility daily up to three times a day and never felt security was an issue. What happened here was tragic, but it is not the fault of Guardian Care. What happened was a rare occurance and was unforeseeable.

  • Rocknhorse Jun 11, 2008

    I will never understand how a person can take any life, but particularly their own family member. I am deeply saddened for the wife and mother of this man. I hope the wife can recover!

    My thoughts go also to the staff and residents/families of others at that nursing home. No place is perfect and yes, some places are worse than others. I think that the best way to get the most of any nursing home is to be an active and involved family member to the resident living there. Sometimes it's a decision you have no choice but to make and sometimes you don't have a choice of location. But regardless of the location, you must be diligent and active for your family member.

    My thoughts and prayers go to all affected by this tragedy!

  • rogerkneebend Jun 11, 2008

    I hardly think my assessment of care there is incorrect. But you work there so you'll defend it, naturally.

  • murdock Jun 11, 2008

    I agree: the issue is on the shooting, not the quality of care. I was just responding to some others' incorrect assessments.

    Regarding safety though, this guy went there today just like he did every other day. Who would suspect anything? Do folks think they should have metal detectors?

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