Former UNC Charlotte student charged with murder after opening fire on classroom

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (ABC News) – Two people were killed and another four injured after a gunman opened fire at the Kennedy Building on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte on the school’s last day of classes.

Three of the injured victims are in critical condition, police said at a news conference Tuesday night. The fourth person suffered non-life threatening injuries.

Police identified the suspect as 22-year-old Trystan Andrew Terrell. He has been charged with two counts of murder, four counts of attempted murder, four counts of assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill, possession of a firearm on educational property and discharging a firearm on educational property.

The school’s chancellor released the names of the victims Wednesday morning. Ellis Parlier, 19, and Riley Howell, 21, were the two individuals killed.

The injured are Drew Pescaro, 19; Sean Dehart, 20; Emily Houpt, 23; and Rami Alramadhan, 20.

All all expected to make a full recovery. Alramadhan’s family is en route to North Carolina from Saudi Arabia, authorities said.

The suspected shooter, Terrell, will make his first court appearance Thursday afternoon. There is no reason to believe anyone else was involved, officials said.

The lockdown on campus was finally lifted early Wednesday, though the building where the shooting occurred will remain closed.

The suspected shooter is a UNCC student, Charlotte ABC affiliate WSOC reported. Chancellor Philip Dubois told reporters that Terrell was a student at the school this semester but withdrew earlier in the semester.

Paul Rold, Terrell’s grandfather, told The Associated Press that his grandson moved to North Carolina with his father after his mother died two years ago. Rold told the AP, “You’re describing someone foreign to me. This is not in his DNA.”

“This is the worst day in the history of UNC Charlotte,” School Chancellor Philip L. Dubois said Tuesday night.

Police dispatch received calls around 4:40 p.m. reporting a suspect was armed with a pistol and had shot several students, police said.

Student Tristan Field, who was in the classroom when the shooting happened, told ABC News the class was listening to group presentations when the gunfire erupted. He was startled and looked in the direction of the gunshots when he heard people screaming and saw them running toward the door on his side of the room. He quickly realized it was not a false alarm, left his stuff behind and ran to the nearest exit.

“It started out as a good day,” said student Tristan Field, who was in the classroom when the shooting broke out. “It was the last day of class, was going to a concert, and now someone got shot, a bunch of people got shot. I don’t know how to feel. I’m happy to be alive, but I’m sad for other people.”

Officers responded to the scene and were able to get into the building where the suspect was located, disarmed him and took him into custody, officials said. The suspect did not say anything to the officers as he was arrested.

“Our officers actions definitely saved lives. There’s no doubt about that,” said University of North Carolina at Charlotte Police and Public Safety Chief Jeff Baker.

The school was placed on lockdown as officers secured the campus. Students were later allowed to return to their residence halls on campus, police said.

“The first thing that went to my head was, ‘Yeah this is actually happening, but just don’t sit there, like get up and go,'” said student Jordan Pearce, who was just outside the classroom when the shooting began. “So I grabbed a girl and we just went straight for the bathroom and called our parents after that.”

The identities of the deceased victims has not been released. Police are waiting to notify family members.

UNC Charlotte police and Charlotte-Mecklenburg police have established a family reunification center at the Harris Teeter at 8600 University City Blvd.

The college’s main campus, at University City, was established in 1946 and is located on the northeast outskirts of North Carolina’s largest city. The public university has an undergraduate enrollment of over 24,000 students.

In addition to the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police, the ATF and FBI are also assisting in the investigation.

“The FBI is on scene and assisting the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department and other law enforcement partners at UNC-Charlotte in the aftermath of an on-campus shooting,” said John Strong, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Charlotte. “The FBI is prepared to provide any resource needed as the investigation continues to determine exactly what led to this tragic loss of life in our community.”

All events Tuesday night at the campus were canceled, including a scheduled Waka Flocka Flame concert. The artist posted on Instagram that he would not be performing.

“For many people here, this will be the worst day of their lives,” North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said. “This is a tough day, but the university will get through it.”
 

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