Murder in North Carolina
October 13th, 2022. It was an unremarkable Thursday morning. Austin Thompson awakened in the bedroom of his home in the usually sleepy Hedingham area of suburban Raleigh, North Carolina. He decided to dress in camouflage that day; nothing unusual about that in the Tar Heel State. By 9:36 PM local time, he would be handcuffed, face down on the ground with a single gunshot wound to his head. Austin is 15 years old, a sophomore at Knightsdale High School. At last word, he was in the pediatric intensive care unit of a local hospital. It’s hard to feel bad about his fate.
As I write this (and I’m not making this up), a pop-up headline appeared on my phone. It reads, “2 killed in shooting at St. Louis high school; gunman also dead”. I can’t write one story about murder in the US before another one is hot off the presses. You see, fifteen-year-old Austin Thompson “allegedly” killed five people on that run-of-the-mill Thursday not yet two weeks ago. Two of the people he killed were veterans. One was his older brother.
Gabriel Torres – United States Marine Corps
Military Times reports that Torres served his nation as a Marine from 2016 through 2021, earning the rank of sergeant. He was an electrician in Combat Logistic Battalion 24, 2nd Marine Logistics Group, out of Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.
His family has established a GoFundMe site to aid in paying for his final expenses. Thus far, they have reached $136,000 of their $150,000 goal. Torres was only 29 at the time of his death, and he was off duty at the time he was shot.
Torres was married, and the couple had a two-year-old daughter. His wife, Jasmin, spoke at his funeral:
“My Gabriel. We were no strangers of distance. Our story revolved around distance. Every chapter of our lives together brought us distance. But this distance…. This new distance, this one I will struggle with for the rest of my life.”
The police officer was in his driveway waiting to say goodbye to his wife and daughter before starting his shift when he was fatally shot by the 15-year-old boy. Raleigh Police Chief Estella Patterson said of officer Torres, “He has left an example to each of us to what the world needs more of.”
Mary Marshall – United States Navy
Also murdered in the senseless shooting was 35-year-old Navy veteran Mary Marshall who was planning to marry the love of her life, her fiancé Rob on October 29th. Instead of the wedding, that was the day of Mary’s funeral. Her sister and friends of the family were already in town prepping for the big day when she was killed. Her sister, Meaghan McCrickard, spoke with NBC News. “She had called her fiancé Rob and said, ‘I’m walking the dog, I’m hearing these gunshots, can you come home?’ And that was the last conversation that they had had,” McCrickard said.
In a separate interview, NBC spoke with Marshall’s fiancé, Rob Steele. He explained how Mary told him that after they heard the gunshots, the dog had slipped his collar and took off. And he did go home, only to find a police detective waiting outside his door. The detective started asking him about Mary’s tattoos. At that point, he had heard about the shooting and sadly realized she was gone.
According to McCrickard, Mary’s dog, Scruff, sat with her all night long and refused to leave.
Marshall spent her time in the service stateside but traveled extensively in Asia after being discharged from the Navy. Upon returning home, she attended culinary school. At the time of her death, she was working as an office manager for a chiropractic office in Raleigh.
Ginny Marshall, Mary’s mother, spoke with NBC News as well. “Mary’s birthday is next week, and she was going to be married in two weeks,” she said, tears streaming down her cheeks. “We don’t know what to do.”
Mary’s sister says she wants the shooter to survive and face the justice system. “I want him to know what he did and how he completely shattered our lives, and we are never going to be the same. I don’t want him to get off,” she said.