Local News

First of eight killed in nursing home massacre buried

Posted April 1, 2009

— Family members and friends gathered Wednesday morning to pay their final respects to a former poultry farmer killed in a shooting rampage at a Carthage nursing home.

Tessie S. Garner, 75, was one of eight people killed Sunday morning at Pinelake Health and Rehab, where, police say, a man shot 11 people.

Tessie Garner funeral Nursing home victim first to be buried

Loved ones filed into Smyrna Methodist Church near Robbins around 11 a.m. to remember Garner, a native of Moore County. She is survived by three daughters, two sisters, four children and three great-grandchildren. She was buried at the church, of which she was a member.

Wednesday's funeral is the first in a series.

Seven other patients – Louise De Kler, 98; Lillian Dunn, 89; John Goldston, 78; Bessie Hedrick, 78; Margaret Johnson, 89; and Jesse Musser, 88 – and nurse Jerry Avant Jr., 39, were also killed.

Police say Carthage police officer Justin Garner shot the alleged gunman, Robert Kenneth Stewart, once in the upper chest, ending the violence.

Stewart, 45, is being held in Central Prison in Raleigh until a court date later this month. He faces eight counts of first-degree murder and one count of felony assault on a law enforcement officer.

Authorities have not said what the motive was for the shootings, but Stewart's estranged wife works at the nursing home. Her mother said on Tuesday that Stewart went there to hurt her but that she was hiding in a locked area of the building.


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  • chrisab0318 Apr 1, 2009

    My god that is so horrible... this just shows how cruel humans can get...

  • floriduhschoolboy Apr 1, 2009

    If you are saying this man doesn't deserve a trial as stated he deserves in the 14th amendment, then you, by all means, are trashing the constitution. It doesn't exist to use when you 'feel' like it.

  • KBUT1 Apr 1, 2009

    To PaulRevere

    The entire applicable phrase reads "except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger." This individual was not acting as a member of the armed forces or militia so this exception does not apply. He is still entitled to due process of law, as provided for in the 14th Amendment.

  • webberx101 Apr 1, 2009

    Constitution?!?! If each of the 8 victims had been armed there would have been only 2 victims - the shooter and the 1st one he shot at ...

  • Drakula_I_G Apr 1, 2009

    Au contraire.
    The death penalty has been shown time and again to be a deterrent to crime.
    The death penalty saves much more in taxpayer money than feeding/housing/medical care for a lifer prisoner.
    It will also bring closure to so many grieving families.

  • ONEHARDHEAD Apr 1, 2009

    Sophiemom- if the death penalty were utilized properly, it WOULD be a deterrent. Public hangings in town squares in the middle of the day would be a deterrent. Nice, neat, sterile lethal injections behind prison walls at 2 in the morning so that the general populace isn't inconvenienced or bothered isn't nearly as much.

  • YoucanthandletheTRUTH Apr 1, 2009

    I hate to state this, but is this a "massacre"? The act was horrible and the man deserves the death penalty but I don't know that this constitutes a "massacre". Columbine is not called a massacre...why is this?

  • devilblue Apr 1, 2009

    The Death Penalty might help stop crime if NC would use it sooner than 20 years after the crime was committed!

  • thnkb4uspk Apr 1, 2009

    I am glad that officer Garner didn't kill him. There is no reason for Garner to feel bad for the rest of HIS life (and he would even though this was his duty). He did the right thing and doesn't have to spend his life knowing that he killed another human; let the courts deal with the killer. He can strangle on "justice" and grow very old inside prison.

  • icdumbpeople Apr 1, 2009

    The cop should have taken care of this. I know, he did a great job.. but it would have been better to just take this guy out.