Domestic Violence or the Recession- Murder In North Carolina

The wife of the suspected gunman from Sunday’s murder spree at a North Carolina nursing home hid in a washroom in fear of her life.
On Sunday the gun man entered Pinelake at around 10 a.m. with more than one weapon. Witnesses report that he used both a deer gun and a shotgun as he blasted through the hallways. Several calls went out from inside the home to 911 operators saying that a man with a double barrel shotgun was shooting people.

Wanda Stewart hid out in a secured washroom while her estranged husband Robert Stewart allegedly went through the nursing home will a gun.

The password protected doors inside a locked area for the Alzheimer’s patients that resided at Pinkelake Health and Rehab may be why Ms. Stewart is alive tonight.

Her mother, Margaret Neal believes that her son-in-law was after her daughter. A month ago the woman left her husband and moved back to a home on her parent’s property. The couple had been married once before as teenagers divorcing a few years later. After several other marriages to others they remarried in June 2002.

AP reports:

“We’re certainly looking into the fact that it may be domestic-related,” said Carthage Police Chief Chris McKenzie.

Stewart’s former ex-wife has confirmed that her ex-husband had violent tendencies. Sue Griffin told reporters that although she had no contract with him since their divorce she had heard that Stewart had told family members that he had cancer and was planning a long trip to get away.

“He did have some violent tendencies from time to time,” Griffin said. “I wouldn’t put it past him. I hate to say it, but it is true.”

Stewart made his first court appearance on Monday. He was formally charged with eight counts of first-degree murder and a single charge of felony assault of a law enforcement officer. He is scheduled to return to court in April. He was sent back to the Central Prison in Raleigh where he is receiving medical care for the injuries he received at the scene.

The victims have been identified as Pinelake residents Tessie Garner, 75; Lillian Dunn, 89; Jesse Musser, 88; Bessie Hedrick, 78; John Goldston, 78; Margaret Johnson, 89; Louise DeKler, 98; and nurse Jerry Avant, 39.

While the motive of the shooting in North Carolina may never be fully understood it is fitting a pattern becoming all to familiar for law enforcement.

Last month four Oakland, California police men were gunned down. In Alabama a man went on a shooting spree in four separate locations. In Santa Clara, California six people died in an apparent murder-suicide on Sunday.

Could these murders all be linked to the recession? That is one theory that criminologists are leaning towards.

The Christian Science Monitor reports:

“Most of these mass killings are precipitated by some catastrophic loss, and when the economy goes south, there are simply more of these losses,” says Jack Levin, a noted criminologist at Northeastern University in Boston.

In past economically hard times violence increased. Domestic violence shelters have had an increase in demand for beds according to the Florida Department of Children and Families.

As the economic pressures increase will we be seeing even more of these horrible crimes? If the past is gauge sadly the answer may be yes.

The potential link between murder-suicides and the economy is an area of study for the Violence Policy Center in Washington. “We’ve been looking at this issue of whether there are more murder-suicides … [and] a pattern is starting to develop that may point in that direction,” says Kristen Rand, legislative director at the center. “Between the Texas Tower shootings in the 1960s until the McDonald’s massacre in 1984, it was extremely rare to see these types of mass shootings. Now we’re seeing them much more often, and they do seem to happen in spurts.”


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