Accused UNC Charlotte gunman Trystan Terrell did not appear in court on May 2, 2019 on the advice of his public defender.
The gunman who launched a deadly attack at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte last week appeared to target a specific group in a classroom, but his reasons remain elusive.
An affidavit accompanying a search warrant of Trystan Andrew Terrell’s apartment and interviews conducted by The Associated Press reveal the assailant zeroed in on the students sitting at a table in the anthropology and philosophy of science class.
Witness Joshua Ayers made that statement to police in the affidavit and reiterated it to the AP on Thursday, saying Terrell headed toward a table that wasn’t the closest one to the door through which he entered the room.
“He came in and directly walked to the table in the corner,” said Ayers, a sophomore who was sitting at a different table. “He didn’t move from that area of the room.’’
According to Ayers, Terrell fired five or six shots aimed at the table, saying, “He didn’t look anywhere else.”
Riley Howell, 21, who was commended for saving lives by tackling the attacker, and Ellis “Reed’’ Parker, 19, were killed in the April 30 assault. Four other students were wounded.
Terrell, 22, was indicted Monday on charges of murder and attempted murder, among other counts.
Police have said from the beginning they believed Terrell had chosen the Kennedy building for his attack on purpose, but they have not revealed a motive.
The class, taught by professor Adam Johnson, is held in a wide room in the Kennedy Hall and the students sit in groups at round tables. Johnson said in a blog post that Terrell was registered for the class and initially seemed engaged, but eventually dropped it in January.
Sophomore Jared Jackowitz was sitting at the table in question and told the AP he and other students there also felt they were the subjects of the attack, but didn’t know why.
“The kid wasn’t part of our group,’’ Jackowitz said. “I didn’t know him at all.”
Jackowitz said three students at the table were shot and another one barely escaped injury when a laptop in his backpack stopped a bullet that would have otherwise hit him.
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“We felt like our table was the one targeted because we had more shots toward us,” Jackowitz said. “I don’t know if the guy was aiming for all of us.”
The investigative documents made public Thursday revealed Terrell had a bag with multiple ammunition magazines, and that six boxes of ammunition were seized from his apartment.
There is considerable mystery surrounding Terrell, who grew up in the Dallas area and moved to North Carolina with his father after his mother died when Terrell was 15. He completed high school and attended Central Piedmont Community College in Charlotte before enrolling at UNCC. Authorities said he withdrew from the school before the semester was over.
His grandfather, Paul Rold, has told new outlets Terrell is autistic and did not socialize much with his peers but had previously shown no affinity for firearms.
“Never in a million years would you have thought he could do this,’’ Rold told the Charlotte Observer three days after the shooting. “It’s still up in the air what motivated him.”
Contributing: The Associated Press
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