CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The man charged with killing two North Carolina university students and wounding four others in their classroom in April pleaded guilty Thursday to two counts of first-degree murder.
Trystan Andrew Terrell, 23, also pleaded guilty Thursday to four counts of attempted murder and discharge of a firearm on educational property. State prosecutors accepted Terrell's plea during a hearing that was previously scheduled to decide whether the gunman could face the death penalty for the killings at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
The shooting at UNCC happened April 30.
Terrell admitted from the beginning he went to the Kennedy Building armed to kill that day. He recounted the shooting in detail to detectives hours later.
Terrell was sentenced to two life sentences without parole.
Riley Howell, 21, of Waynesville, and Ellis Reed Parlier, 19, of Midland, died after each was shot multiple times, according to their autopsy reports.
Those victims' mothers spoke about the pain they have been living with.
"Your honor, the defendant took our son," Reed Parlier’s mother, Julie Parlier, said after the plea deal.
"We will never forgive him (Terrell) for his actions," Parlier said. "If the defendant wanted to kill someone, he should have turned the gun on himself. May you rot in hell and suffer torture."
“Today, we finish what Riley started,” said Riley Howell’s mother, Natalie Howell.
Samantha Coop graduated from the university since the tragedy.
“It was really traumatizing,” Coop said. “I thought it was my obligation to see it through to the end with him.”
She vividly remembers April 30.
“I was getting phone calls and text messages from my friends that were scared,” Coop said. “My parents and family out of town were calling and asking me if I was OK.”
Terrell apologized to the victims' families inside the courtroom.
“I am so sorry to everybody,” Terrell said. “I really messed up. If I could go back in time and even to the very second to where I entered that classroom, I would do that. I am so sorry. I made a mistake.”
Terrell's attorneys spoke about how the suspect has been living with autism and that he was isolated and unable to socialize.
They said he panicked, and the shooting was a cry for help.
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