Gunman kills eight at North Carolina nursing home

A gunman who opened fire at a nursing home in North Carolina yesterday morning killed eight people and wounded three others, police said.

Sheriff's officers describing the scene at Pinelake Health and Rehab in the town of Carthage said Robert Stewart "comes in and just starts shooting everything around". Stewart killed seven residents and a 39-year-old nurse before he was shot and overpowered by police. A 25-year-old policeman was also hurt. The residents killed ranged in age from 78 to 98.

"It's a horrible event in any size town, particularly, though, when you deal with a small town such as Carthage," said police chief Chris McKenzie. District Attorney Maureen Krueger said Stewart, 45, of Moore County, faced eight charges of murder and one of assaulting a police officer.

Stewart was not a patient or employee of the nursing home and was not believed to be related to any of the victims. Mr McKenzie did not offer any further details on his motives for the shootings.

The authorities later conducted a search of the nursing home's car park, which they had marked off with police tape. Among the items found was a camouflage-coloured rifle or shotgun, which was leaning against the side of a Jeep Cherokee.

Senator Harris Blake said six people were killed at the scene and two died later in hospital. "The shooter entered the facility heavily armed and began shooting at people in wheelchairs," he said.

Gretchen Kelly, a spokeswoman for FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital, said six people were brought to the hospital from the nursing home, about 60 miles southwest of Raleigh. Ms Kelly said two of the injured died at the hospital. Two other patients had been discharged, while two were still being treated, she said.

Carthage is a small town of roughly 1,800 people in the North Carolina Sandhills, an area popular among retirees and home to several noted golf courses, including the Pinehurst resort.

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