The gunman believed to have killed five people in North Carolina in America’s latest mass shooting is a 15-year-old boy, in critical condition after being shot by police, officials said Friday.
Two more people were wounded in the Thursday night shooting, the motive of which remains under investigation, Raleigh police chief Estella Patterson told a news conference in the state capital.
She said the fatalities included a 29-year-old off-duty police officer who was on his way to work. The four other victims were a 16-year-old boy and three women aged 35, 49 and 52.
A 59-year-old woman also remained hospitalised in critical condition.
“The nightmare of every community has come to Raleigh,” Governor Roy Cooper said. “This is senseless, horrific and infuriating act of violence.”
President Joe Biden condemned the shooting and said gun violence in America is now so rampant that some killings no longer make the news.
“Enough. We’ve grieved and prayed with too many families who have had to bear the terrible burden of these mass shootings,” Biden said in a statement.
He renewed his appeal for a ban on high-power assault rifles commonly used in these massacres — a proposal that has repeatedly failed due to opposition from Republicans in Congress.
The shooter in this latest case opened fire in Raleigh on and near a popular walking trail called the Neuse River Greenway.
Patterson and other officials gave few details of how the mass shooting unfolded.
After an hours-long standoff in a house, the suspect was shot and taken into custody, police said.
“My heart is heavy because we don’t have answers as to why this tragedy occurred,” Patterson said.
Gun violence is an urgently pressing problem in the United States, where more than 34,000 people have been killed by firearms so far in 2022 alone, more than half of them from suicide, according to the Gun Violence Archive website.
The North Carolina shooting occurred after a jury earlier in the day rejected the death penalty and backed life imprisonment for Nikolas Cruz, who shot and killed 17 people at a Florida high school in 2018.
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Mass shootings have repeatedly stunned the nation, reigniting debate on the divisive issue of gun control — but there has been little headway in Congress.
However, several of the most recent gun rampages, including a shooting at a school in Texas and a supermarket frequented by African Americans in New York state, prompted lawmakers to agree in June, for the first time in 30 years, to pass modest reform of gun control laws.
Nearly 400 million guns are in circulation among the civilian population in the United States, or 120 guns for every 100 people, according to the Small Arms Survey project.