Local News

Suspect indicted in nursing home shooting rampage

Posted April 13, 2009 12:21 p.m. EDT
Updated April 13, 2009 7:11 p.m. EDT

— A Moore County man accused of going on a deadly shooting spree at a Carthage nursing home last month was indicted Monday on a number of charges, including eight counts of murder.

A grand jury also indicted Robert Kenneth Stewart on two counts of assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury, one count of assault with a firearm on a law enforcement officer, two counts of assault by pointing a gun and one count of discharging a weapon into occupied property.

Seven patients and a nurse died in the March 29 attacks at Pinelake Health and Rehab in Carthage; and three other people, including Carthage police officer Justin Garner, were injured.

Garner shot Stewart, 45, in the upper chest, ending the nearly 20-minute rampage, police said.

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

An autopsy report released Monday found Hedrick died from a gunshot wound to the abdomen. Autopsy results of the other victims were not immediately released.

Garner, who underwent surgery last week to remove two of three gunshot pellets from his left leg, is recovering at home.

Stewart was scheduled to appear in court Monday on eight charges of murder, but the hearing was postponed. Stewart's defense attorney, Frank Wells, said his client is still undergoing "some treatment" for the gunshot wound at Central Prison in Raleigh.

"The last time I saw him, he was doing well, physically," Wells said.

Investigators have not discussed a motive in the shootings, but Stewart's wife, who works at the nursing home, has said she believes he went to the facility to shoot her.

According to search warrants, investigators said Stewart told a nurse he had taken six nerve pills prior to the shootings and did not remember anything about them.

Moore County District Attorney Maureen Krueger will not comment on whether she plans to seek the death penalty.