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Trystan Andrew Terrell has been named as the suspect in a fatal shooting on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
Terrell is a 22-year-old former UNCC student. The shooting took place on April 30, the final day of classes in the Spring semester. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department has confirmed that Terrell is in custody and that charges against him are pending.
In total, six people were wounded and two were shot dead. Three others have life-threatening injuries while one other person is stable. The victims are being treated at Carolinas Medical Center Main Hospital in Charlotte.
The shooting at UNCC was first reported about 6:00 p.m. local time. Authorities believe that there is only one suspect and there is no ongoing threat, but officers were continuing to search every building on campus as a precaution Tuesday night.
Terrell, a history student, was first identified in a tweet from WSOC-9’s Joe Bruno. Police have not confirmed any details about him, citing the ongoing investigation, but plan to provide an update as soon as possible. Terrell was being interviewed by Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department detectives Tuesday night. The CMPD is leading the investigation.
Here’s what you need to know about UNCC shooting suspect Trystan Terrell:
1. Trystan Terrell Is Autistic & a Classmate Described Him as ‘Quiet’
Terrell’s father, Craig, wrote in a blog post in May 2016 that his son was diagnosed as being autistic at three years old. Craig Terrell said that when a nurse in a neurological doctor’s office asked him, “Has anyone ever mentioned the word autism to you?… Our lives got more complicated.” He went on to discuss the difficulty of researching autism online as the family was living in a rural part of Texas with only dial-up AOL internet access. Craig Terrell added that the nurse told him that there would be no follow-up appointment but that family just needed to research autism on the internet.
According to Autism Speaks, autism affects one in 59 children in the United States. There have been no medical studies showing a connection between Autism and violence, according to an article in The Atlantic that explored the Asperger’s diagnosis of Sandy Hook Elementary School shooter Adam Lanza.
The Autism Society wrote, “To imply or suggest that some linkage exists is wrong and is harmful to more than 1.5 million law abiding, non-violent and wonderful individuals who live with autism each day.”
A classmate described Terrell to a local reporter as being “quiet.”
“He just seemed really quiet, standoffish,” the student told Fox 46 Charlotte’s David Sentendrey. “I’ve never seen him talk to anyone else, socializing really like the rest of the people around campus, because we’re pretty close-knit, I think, and everyone knows everyone pretty much, but I’ve never seen him at an event or parties or anything like that.”
2. Trystan Terrell Dropped Out of UNCC This Semester
WCNC reports that Trystan Terrell dropped out of the University of North Carolina-Charlotte this past semester. Terrell enrolled in the school in the fall of 2018.
BREAKING: this is a shot of the suspected UNCC student. He shouted to us as he was brought into CMPD hq, which we’re trying to decipher what he said. A Mecklenburg County ADA is inside right now with detectives. pic.twitter.com/k09y2UUBVf
— Brandon Goldner (@BrandonWCNC) April 30, 2019
Multiple local stations aired footage of Terrell being brought into Charlotte-Mecklenburg jail shortly after his arrest. The suspect could be seen grinning while yelling something at the assembled media. UNCC Police Jeff Chief Baker told reporters that Terrell was not on “their radar” prior to the shooting. Chief Baker added that “Our officers’ actions saved lives.”
Police said Terrell was armed with a handgun. It is not clear how he obtained the weapon.
A witness who was live-tweeting in the aftermath of the shooting posted the above photo. That witness described the scene as being a, “Very chaotic… everyone terrified, classrooms are locked, students are inside.” He said that the wounded student was from Saudi Arabia but “I have to tell you it has nothing to do with Muslim or immigrants, it was a random shooting like many other school shootings.” The witness added that the gunman was apprehended after he ran out of bullets.
Another witness told WCCB’s Drew Bollea that she was in class listening to presentations when “someone opened a door and started firing.” The class where the shooting occurred was Science, Technology and Society with Professor Adam Johnson.
Tristan Field, who was in the classroom where the shooting occurred, tweeted, “The shooter at UNCC didn’t say anything. He just started shooting during our final presentations and we all ran out. I’m praying for everyone that got hit and UNC Charlotte as a whole.”
Field added, “Why would anyone do this. We were just doing presentations and someone started shooting up the room. We didn’t do anything but our work. Stay safe UNCC. Why here? Why today? Why UNC Charlotte? Why my classroom? What did we do?”
Field said the shooting occurred on the second floor of the Kennedy building. Field said the shooting occurred during a LBST, or Liberal Studies, class.
Police said at a press conference that the gunman was taken down by officers who responded to the shooting. Officials would not comment about the reports that he had run out of ammunition.
There is no motive being made public for the attack yet. The school is located ten miles northeast of downtown Charlotte. The shooting occurred on the same night as rapper Waka Flocka Flame was due to perform at Jerry Richardson Stadium on campus. The doors for the concert opened at 6 p.m., just before the shooting was first reported. Chief Baker told the media that officers had just finished a briefing about the event when the gunfire began.
The rapper later confirmed via his Instagram page that the free concert had been canceled.
3. Terrell Is a Registered Libertarian & Does Not Appear to Have a Criminal Record
Screengrab via North Carolina State Board of Elections
According to the North Carolina State Board of Elections, Terrell is a registered member of the Libertarian Party. The registration gives his registered county Mecklenburg, where UNCC is located. He is described as being white and “not Hispanic or not Latino.”
Little other information about Terrell has been made public or uncovered by reporters so far. Terrell does not appear to have a criminal record in North Carolina or elsewhere. It is not clear where Terrell went to high school or how long he had been studying at UCCC before dropping out.
While local police are leading the investigation, federal authorities have also responded, including the ATF and the FBI. The FBI’s Charlotte office tweeted, “The FBI is assisting @CMPD & other law enforcement partners at UNC-Charlotte in the aftermath of an on-campus shooting. The FBI is prepared to provide any resource needed as the investigation continues to determine exactly what led to this tragic loss of life in our community.”
4. Terrell Lives Directly Across the Street From a Light Rail Service that Goes to the UNCC Campus
Online records show that Terrell’s social security number was issued in Mansfield, Texas, just southeast of Fort Worth, Texas. Further records show that the suspect lived for a time in Pelham, Alabama, and moved to Charlotte in 2014 where he lived with his father. Craig Terrell wrote in a blog post that he moved to North Carolina to start a new job.
WCNC reported that on the night of the shooting, numerous law-enforcement services could be seen outside of Terrell’s apartment building. Neighbors described Terrell as “quiet” and “reserved.” His home is located directly across the street from a light-rail service that goes directly to the UNCC campus.
Terrell’s sister paid tribute to her brother in a Facebook post on his birthday on June 6, 2017, she wrote, “I can’t believe my baby brother is 21 today 😭 Happy birthday, Trystan- the smartest, strongest, most kind-hearted person I know! I’ll let you be the favorite child just for today…”
5. Trystan Terrell’s Mother Passed Away in 2011 After a Battle With Breast Cancer
Facebook/Robyn TerrellA flier for a fundraising night being held for Terrell’s mother in 2011.
Trystan Terrell’s mother, Robyn Terrell, passed away in December 2011 following a battle with breast cancer. Her online obituary reads, “She enjoyed spending time with her family and as a loving mother, instilled good values in her children.” The tribute adds that Robyn Terrell was survived by her husband of 21 years, Craig Terrell, Trystan Terrell, as well as a daughter.
Robyn Terrell maintained a blog about her brave fight titled, “No Place Like Hope.” In the bio for that page, Robyn Terrell wrote, “I AM A WIFE AND MOTHER OF TWO INCREDIBLE CHILDREN.” In a side panel on that page, Robyn Terrell included a photo of her son with the caption, “My handsome son.”