Mass shooting in North Carolina shatters quiet neighborhood


For Hedingham resident Marvin Judd, Nicole Connors and her beloved wire-haired dog, Sami, it’s like his daily routine to drive out to buy egg and cheese pretzels for breakfast.

“I’d love to see her walk that dog,” said Judd, 76, who has lived in a densely populated residential development in the eastern suburbs of Raleigh for 20 years. “And I’ll stop and talk to her on the way out and on the way back.”

Judd will talk to the HR specialist “about God.” When she underwent microsurgery on her left shoulder, he provided the 52-year-old former Catholic schoolgirl spiritual solace.

“I will tell her that God will heal her,” he said.

Connors recently told Judd that she is almost done with her rehabilitation. And, then, she was gone – and Hedingham’s peace was shattered.

Police say a 15-year-old boy – dressed in a camisole and armed with a handgun, according to 911 callers – has turned Hedingham’s gently winding streets and green riverside into a killing zone . When the shooting ended on Thursday, five people, including Connors, were dead.

Sami, short for Samantha, was found dead at Connors’ feet.

Although police have not yet identified the shooter, who was arrested hours after the attack and hospitalized in a critical condition for unknown reasons, neighbors say they believe he lives in the area. Hedingham.

“It’s close to home,” says Joshua Phillips, who often walks with Connors with his bull, Buddy.

Hedingham is like most American neighborhoods. You may not know the names of everyone on your block, but people greet each other on the driveways and can always find something to chat about.

But Phillips said Thursday’s carnage was a “wake-up call.”

“Telling you what’s going on, where things are. And, I mean, you can’t let your guard down, that’s for sure,” Phillips said Friday, as police finished handling the two crime scenes. nearby case. “I mean, now you walk with a little caution. You don’t know what’s going on, who’s doing what.”

The large 18-hole course at Hedingham Golf Club serves as a major gateway to the community along its southwestern border. Now, the brick ledges lining its entrance – each read as HEDINGHAM in gilded block letters – are piled high with bouquets of flowers and candles, the state flag flying half a foot high beside the makeshift memorial. .

Volunteers handed out free meals en route from the golf club’s entrance on Friday night while counselors and a golden retriever in a blue therapy vest greeted the community. copper is grieving.

With its golf course, lake and community swimming pool, the vibrant single-family residence and townhouse is a relatively affordable oasis in a booming real estate market. Banana trees, azaleas, and azalea bushes adorn the neat lawns, dotted with pumpkins, ghosts, and other Halloween decorations.

Allison and Braden Greenawalt moved to Hedingham in 2019 just before the pandemic began. Even as COVID-19 forced people to stay closer to home, she found support from her new friends.

“It’s a very warm community for people supporting each other,” she said.

It’s also the support network she clung to on Thursday night.

The couple’s home was just a few doors down from the home of police officer Raleigh Gabriel Torres, one of the dead. As officers gathered evidence from Torres’ bullet-riddled vehicle, Allison Greenawalt checked a community Facebook group for updates.

“It’s a very warm community for people supporting each other,” she said, tears rolling down her cheeks as blue and white police flashes lit up the night. “We are a group of people who care about each other and stick together.”

One of the neighborhood’s treasures is the Neuse River Greenway, a bike and pedestrian path that runs alongside the Greenawalts’ home. At least two of the victims were found there, according to 911 calls.

As she walked the green path Friday afternoon, Sara Cutter, 31, said she felt “a lingering sadness over Raleigh.”

Going for a nature walk is a regular part of her self-care routine, she says.

Cutter, a salesperson, said as she strolled down the street with a friend. “It’s obscured by trees in many places. This kind of thing makes you forget you’re in the city for a moment.”

That calm atmosphere is all the more important as she deals with this tragedy in her hometown.

“I saw some gloomy faces while I was walking today,” she said. “But it’s also nice to see people out. Community – that’s what’s going to get us through.”

Despite the tragedy, Cutter says she intends to continue using the trail. But, she added, “I’ll probably never go alone again.”

Tracey Howard said he and Connors, his wife of five years, always feel safe in Hedingham.

The couple, who met on Facebook, have rented their two-story home for about four years. But they planned to look for a new home after the new year.

“Something in the suburbs of Raleigh,” the truck driver said. “Something with more pitch.”

After what happened, he knew he couldn’t stay at Hedingham.

“How I can?” he say.

Judd said Connors’ death left a hole in the community and in his heart.

“She’s a sweet person,” he said. “She has a kind heart. She is always kind and gentle to everyone she meets. She doesn’t meet strangers. Everyone is a friend.”

But Allison Greenawalt still finds beauty in this place.

“The calm was a little broken,” she said. “And I know that while we may be a little shaky right now, we will come back stronger than ever.

“You have to prune a bush for it to bloom.”


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