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Carthage still healing, praying after nursing home massacre

Posted April 5, 2009

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— A week after eight people were shot to death in a Carthage nursing home, residents are still trying to come to terms with the tragedy.

Residents of Carthage still grieving after shootings Stricken community tries to heal after shootings

The rampage began around 10 a.m. Sunday, March 29, when police say Robert Kenneth Stewart, 45, barged into the Pinelake Health and Rehab and fatally shot seven patients and a nurse and wounded three others. The massacre ended when Carthage Police Officer Justin Garner traded gunfire with Stewart, wounding the suspect. 

“It's been a week of sadness. I find myself reading the various articles in the newspaper and actually crying,” Carthage resident Catherine Graham said.

Pinelake residents Tessie Garner, 75; Lillian Dunn, 89; Jesse Musser, 88; Bessie Hedrick, 78; John Goldston, 78; Margaret Johnson, 89; and Louise De Kler, 98; and nurse Jerry Avant, 39, died in the shootings.

Pastor Daryl Harris, with Endtime Harvest Church, was one of the chaplains at FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital, in nearby Pinehurst, where many of shooting victims were taken.

“It's a wound that's not going to heal overnight. It's going to take time. It's going to take prayer. It's going to take people coming together and strengthening one another,” Harris said.

Rev. Tom Herndon, with First Baptist Church of Carthage, recalled the sermon he was preaching when he first heard about the shootings.

"The sermon title was the Beginning of Hostilities. Who would have ever thought we'd be having hostilities right here in our own town,” Herndon said.

Stewart was being held at Central Prison in Raleigh on eight counts of first-degree murder and a charge of felony assault on a law enforcement officer.

“All of us will remember this. It's something that you won't ever forget,” Graham said.

The Sandhills Center for Mental Health put together a five-part series on grief for people affected by the shooting. Meetings will be held every Thursday in April from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. at First Baptist Church, 108 McNeill St. in Carthage.

The North Carolina Health Care Facilities Association has also established a fund to benefit family members of the people killed.

Contributions can be made at any branch of Capital Bank or sent payable to Carthage Crisis Assistance Fund, North Carolina Health Car Facilities Association, 5109 Bur Oak Circle, Raleigh, N.C. 27612.

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  • mwilliams2 Apr 6, 2009

    I agree SalemWWX - there are so many more random mass murders being perpetuated these days - no need for the media to dwell on this one for more than a week.

  • SalemWWX Apr 6, 2009

    My general thought is that the town can begin to heal and move on once the news vans leave and the reminders on TV stop showing up every half hour or so....It's hard to come to grips with something in your own head when there's someone in your face 24/7...there's a line between covering news and running it into the ground that is too consistently crossed, then lapped....