Nursing home tragedy won't define town
Posted April 3, 2009 5:32 p.m. EDT
Updated April 4, 2009 4:53 p.m. EDT
Rockingham, N.C. — Residents of the Moore County town of Carthage say one singular event won't shape the town's identity.
"Carthage is going to remain Carthage, regardless of what happened," local resident Eddie Nieves said Friday, nearly a week after eight people died in a shooting rampage at the Pinelake Health and Rehab nursing home.
Police say Robert Kenneth Stewart walked into the nursing home around 10 a.m. Sunday, killed seven patients and a nurse and injured three others before a police officer shot him in the upper chest, ending the violence.
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.
Musser was buried in his home state of West Virginia Friday; others were laid to rest on Wednesday and Thursday.
White ribbons representing symbols of hope now adorn the small town in an effort to honor the victims and help a broken community begin healing.
“March 29 is a day I never imagined would happen in my quiet, peaceful town,” Mayor Ronnie Fields said Thursday night while attending a public forum to help the community grieve.
A memorial service is also planned for 6 p.m. Saturday at Carthage United Methodist Church.
"The people here are too strong to let that be a blemish on them," Carthage resident Kim Ruckert said. "I think it'll make everybody stronger."