The parents of a 15-year-old boy accused of killing five people in a North Carolina shooting rampage said they were “overcome with grief” and saw no warning signs before the killings.
Alan and Elise Thompson confirmed that one of the five victims on Thursday night was Austin Thompson’s own brother, James, 16.
Witnesses described in 911 calls that the attacker opened fire with what appeared to be a shotgun in a neighbourhood north-east of downtown Raleigh and along an adjacent walking trail.
“Our son Austin inflicted immeasurable pain on the Raleigh community, and we are overcome with grief for the innocent lives lost,” his parents' statement said.
They said they would fully co-operate to help investigators understand what happened, but they had questions themselves. Authorities have not discussed a motive for the shooting.
“There were never any indications or warning signs that Austin was capable of doing anything like this,” the statement said.
Austin Thompson remains in hospital in critical condition following his arrest on Thursday night, hours after the shooting began.
The Wake County prosecutor has said she will pursue adult charges against him.
Investigators have not disclosed where the attacker obtained the gun or guns used in the shooting.
Callers who dialled 911 during the shooting rampage described encountering bodies on the streets or front yards of their neighbourhood and along a trail popular with runners and bikers, according to recordings released by authorities.
The shooting drew officers from numerous agencies to the neighbourhood as the attacker eluded capture for several hours. The victims, ranging in age from 16 to their late 50s, were felled while going about their daily routines, police and loved ones said. Among those killed was an off-duty police officer. Two others were wounded.
Several people who knew Austin Thompson told AP that he was quiet but seemed friendly.
Tracey Howard, whose wife Nicole Connors was among those killed, said that Austin and his brother lived two doors away from them. He said that he would exchange waves with the two boys.
“I’d see them coming from school. `How you doing?’” he said, raising his arm to demonstrate. “They’d wave back. Sometimes they didn’t. But we never had any beef or problems with them.”
Another neighbour, Jennifer Magnuson, said that her three teen-age children attended high school with the boys and took the bus with them. She said her children described Austin and his brother as keeping to themselves.
Omer Rosas, who was in classes with Austin, said they talked frequently in class and described him as personable. He said he was shocked to find out that his classmate had been arrested in connection with the shooting.
“I did not expect it to be him,” Rosas said. “He was very calm. He wasn’t like a mean person. He was open to be nice to everyone.”