UNC Charlotte shooter ‘targeted a specific table of people,’ witness told police

The accused University of North Carolina Charlotte shooter “walked towards a particular table and began to fire at the people seated there,” a witness told police after the April 30 attack that killed two students and left four injured.

The statement was quoted in a search warrant affidavit Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police filed hours after the shooting in a UNC Charlotte classroom. A magistrate granted the warrant to search the apartment of Trystan Andrew Terrell, who was taken into custody at the scene.

Terrell, who grew up in North Texas before moving to North Carolina, was indicted this week on murder, attempted murder and assault charges.

The affidavit offers new details on the shooting itself, which CMPD Chief Kerr Putney said last week had appeared not to target specific people. It gives this account:

A UNCC campus police officer, Sgt. Richard Gundacker, entered room 236 of the Kennedy Building after responding to a 911 call about a shooting. He found several people in the room and “yells to the occupants of the room and asks them (to) tell him who was shooting,” it says.

“At that time a subject in the room identified himself as the shooter. That person, Trystan Andrew Terrell, is taken into custody and a Glock firearm is recovered. A black leather bag located on Mr. Terrell’s person contained multiple gun magazines.”

One witness, Joshua Ayers, told police he had been in the room to make a presentation when “a male subject slammed the door open and produced a pistol,” the affidavit says.

“Mr. Ayers stated that the subject walked towards a particular table and began to fire at the people seated there. At that point everyone began to flee the classroom. It was apparent to Mr. Ayers that the subject targeted a specific table of people.”

Students in the classroom have described the quiet classroom, in which teams were giving final presentations on the last day of spring classes, quickly turning to chaos as the gunfire rang out.

Terrell appeared to tell TV cameras as he was being led into CMPD headquarters that “I just went into his classroom and shot the guy.” Investigators have not publicly revealed a suspected motive for the attack.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police searched a third-floor unit at the Novel Noda apartments on East 36th Street a few hours after the shooting, the search warrant shows. Officers seized from the apartment a laptop, paper targets, three handgun magazines, six boxes of ammunition and a magazine loader, it says.


A Mecklenburg County grand jury indicted Terrell on Monday on two counts of murder, four counts of attempted first-degree murder, four counts of assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill, one count of possessing a firearm on educational property and one count of discharging a weapon on educational property.

The indictments offer no additional details about the shooting. No bond has been set on the two murder charges, according to the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office website.

The indictments cancel a scheduled May 15 court date for Terrell in a North Carolina District Court. No court date has been scheduled in Superior Court, where the case will be heard.

UNCC students Reed Parlier, 19, of Midland and Riley Howell, 21, of Waynesville died in the April 30 shooting inside a campus classroom. Four more students were injured: Rami Alramadhan, 20, of Saihat, Saudia Arabia; Sean Dehart, 20, of Apex; Emily Houpt, 23, of Charlotte; and Drew Pescaro, 19, of Apex.

The shooting shocked the nearly 30,000-student UNCC campus on the final day of spring classes. Terrell had been taking the course on science and technology before withdrawing earlier in the semester, sources told The Charlotte Observer.

It also stunned Terrell’s family: “Never in a million years would you have thought he could do this,” Terrell’s grandfather, Paul Rold of Arlington, Texas, told The Observer last week. “It’s still up in the air what motivated him.”

Terrell previously lived in Mansfield, Texas, and attended Mansfield High School.

Victims remembered

Parlier’s family remembered him as an “intelligent, independent thinker with a great sense of humor and a sweet, quiet, loving soul,” his obituary said. He had a lifelong interest in technology and was studying computer science at UNCC, it said. The family gathered privately last week.

Police hailed Howell as a hero for tackling the shooter before he was fatally shot, saving other lives. His family and others who knew him said that was typical of the strapping, kind-hearted young man. More than 1,000 people attended his funeral Sunday at Lake Junaluska, near his hometown.

UNCC Chancellor Philip Dubois has said the university will undertake an extensive external review of response to the shooting. But first will come commencement as planned on Friday and Saturday. Houpt, one of the shooting survivors, is expected to walk across the stage to receive her degree, Dubois said last week.

UNCC said Tuesday it has created a Niner Nation Remembers website to honor Howell, Parlier and the students wounded in the attack, and a commission to guide the school in how to memorialize the slain students.

The new website includes information from the week of the shooting, a photo gallery and a video of the campus vigil held in response. It also lets individuals share personal thoughts on the tragedy.

Charlotte Observer staff writer Jane Wester contributed to this article.

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