Local News

First of eight killed in nursing home massacre buried

Posted April 1, 2009 12:12 p.m. EDT
Updated April 1, 2009 3:27 p.m. EDT

— 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.

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 .

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.