Eight killed in US old age home (Lead)

March 30th, 2009 - 12:19 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, March 30 (DPA) Seven elderly people and a nurse were killed Sunday in a shooting at a health and rehabilitation centre that has shaken the tiny town of Carthage in the US state of North Carolina, officials said.
The dead included six women and a man, aged 78 to 98, and a male nurse who worked at the centre, which cares for elderly and those suffering from Alzheimer’s, Carthage officials said in broadcast remarks.

Six of those killed were dead at the bloody scene at Pinelake Health and Rehabilitation Centre. Two others died at FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital in Pinehurst, North Carolina, the newspaper reported, citing police and a spokeswoman at the hospital.

The town of 1,871 people had never seen such carnage, according to Chris McKenzie, the Carthage police chief, in broadcast remarks.

“This is a small community built on faith and faith will get us through,” McKenzie said. “I don’t know that the emotion has fully set in.”

The injured included a police officer and a visitor to the nursing home, according to the Fayetteville Observer newspaper online. Two others were reportedly also injured and taken to the hospital, which was put under a security lockdown.

The gunman, identified as Robert Stewart, 45, forced his way into the facility around 10 a.m. and opened fire, according to the Observer. He faces charges on eight counts of first degree murder, McKenzie said.

McKenzie, who said he would give further details at 1400 GMT Monday, said a crisis intervention centre had been set up at the First Baptist church in town to help the community cope with the unprecedented violence in their small town.

“It’s a small town, where it’s all family and we’ve all been in touch,” John Benton, director of Moore County’s Department of Social Services, was quoted as saying.

There was apparently no security at the entrances to the centre.

The Pinelake Health and Rehab houses about 90 people with special needs, many suffering from Alzheimer’s. No motives for the attack were known.

Carthage is about 100 km from Raleigh, the capital of North Carolina.

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