A 15-year-old boy shot dead five people and wounded two others in a suburban massacre in Raleigh, North Carolina, on Thursday, according to authorities.
He shot dead two people on a neighborhood street, before fleeing to a trail in a nearby wooded greenway, where he killed three others. The total crime scene area spread across more than two miles.
The suspect, described only as a 15-year-old white boy, eluded authorities for hours before he was captured. He is now in a critical condition in a local hospital.
"My heart is heavy because we don't have answers as to why this tragedy occurred," Raleigh Police Chief Estella Patterson told reporters in a Friday morning press conference.
Those killed ranged in age from 16 to 52 and included an off-duty police officer, Gabriel Torres, 29, whom Patterson said was on his way to work.
"Today, we're sad, we're angry, and we want to know the answers to all the questions," Gov. Roy Cooper said. "Those questions will be answered, some today and more over time. But I think we all know the core truth: No neighborhood, no parent, no child, no grandparent — no one should feel this fear in their communities."
Officers first reported an active shooting situation in an east Raleigh neighborhood at 5:55 p.m.
People were advised to remain indoors, and local media showed a large response to the residential area, which borders a trail.
“This is a sad and tragic day for the city of Raleigh,” Raleigh Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin said Thursday night.
The victims of the shooting included Torres; Nicole Conners, 53; Susan Karnatz, 49; Mary Marshall, 34; and James Thompson, 16. A 59-year-old woman was also in a hospital in critical condition. A canine officer was also taken to a hospital with injuries, but was later released.
Baldwin thanked police officers and called on the community to come together.
"We must do more. We must stop is mindless violence in America. We must address gun violence. We have much to do, and tonight we have much to mourn," she said.
In a statement released by the White House on Friday, President Joe Biden said that he and the first lady were "grieving with the families in Raleigh, North Carolina, whose loved ones were killed and wounded in yet another mass shooting in America."
The American Public Health Association says gun violence in the US is a public health crisis. It is a leading cause of premature death in the country, responsible for more than 38,000 deaths annually.
As of Oct. 14, at least 34,964 people have died from gun violence this year, according to data from the Gun Violence Archive.
This story has been updated with information released by authorities on Friday morning.