Affidavit: Witness told police campus shooter targeted table

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — A witness told police that the suspect in a fatal university shooting took aim at a specific table where students were seated, according to investigative documents made public Thursday.

The documents also show six boxes of ammunition were seized from an apartment associated with the suspect.

Trystan Andrew Terrell, 22, is charged with first-degree murder and other counts in last week’s shooting at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Two students were killed, and four were wounded.

In an affidavit accompanying the search warrant, police quote witness Joshua Ayers as saying he was in a class where students were giving presentations on the last day of class “when a male subject slammed the door open and produced a pistol.” The faculty member who taught the class has said the gunman was enrolled in the class but quit attending in January.

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Ayers said the suspect walked toward a particular table and began to fire at the people seated there. At that point, everyone began to flee the classroom.

“It was apparent to Mr. Ayers that the subject targeted a specific table of people,” investigators write.

In a phone interview Thursday, Ayers reiterated his belief that the table was targeted, saying that the suspect walked toward a table that wasn’t the closest one to the door where he entered.

“He came in and directly walked to the table in the corner,” said Ayers, 20, a sophomore, who was sitting at a different table. “He didn’t move from that area of the room.”

He recalled that the gunman fired about five or six shots that seemed aimed at that table and not at the general room.

“He didn’t look anywhere else,” Ayers told The Associated Press.

Sophomore Jared Jackowitz was sitting at that table. He said Thursday that he and his group members also felt like they were targeted, but they don’t know why.

“We felt like our table was the one targeted because we had more shots toward us,” he told the AP. “I don’t know if the guy was aiming for all of us.”

At that table, Jackowitz said three people were shot and another narrowly escaped injury when a laptop in his backpack stopped a bullet that would have otherwise hit him. But Jackowitz does not know why his table may have been targeted.

“The kid wasn’t part of our group. I didn’t know him at all,” he said.

Authorities have revealed little about what may have motivated Terrell. Terrell had been a student at the university but withdrew before the end of this semester. Police have previously said Terrell had specifically chosen the building where the shooting happened, but that detectives hadn’t determined if he was targeting the class or certain people.

The Mecklenburg County District Attorney’s office declined comment Thursday about whether Terrell had targeted specific victims, citing the ongoing nature of the case.

The public defender’s office said Jean Lawson, identified in documents as representing Terrell, wasn’t available for comment Thursday.

In the new investigative documents, police write that a Glock firearm was recovered at the scene, and that Terrell had a bag with multiple ammunition magazines. Police have previously said the suspect fired a handgun.

During the apartment search, investigators turned up the ammunition boxes, a laptop, paper targets, 3 handgun magazines, and a magazine loader. The apartment listed in the warrants matches an address for Terrell found in public records.

Killed in the shooting were Riley Howell, 21, of Waynesville, and Ellis R. Parlier, 19 of Midland. Authorities said Howell tackled the gunman, saving lives.

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Morris reported from Raleigh.

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