Local News

Carthage still healing, praying after nursing home massacre

Posted April 5, 2009 5:49 p.m. EDT
Updated April 5, 2009 11:49 p.m. EDT

— 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.

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.