Families of Victims Sue in North Carolina Nursing Home Shootings

December 17, 2010

The families of two of the eight people shot and killed at a North Carolina nursing home last year have sued, saying the home didn’t do enough to protect residents.

Seven residents and a nurse were killed and two others were hurt at Pinelake Health and Rehabilitation Center in Carthage on March 29, 2009.

The lawsuit filed this week in Durham County Superior Court alleges that the suspect’s estranged wife told her supervisors that he might come for her that day, so they should have known he was likely to attack her there. It also accuses Pinelake and its owners, Peak Resources, of not providing basic protection to residents, such as locked front doors, a surveillance system, or someone working at the front desk.

Attorneys for the nursing home said they had not fully reviewed the lawsuit and could not comment.

A police officer shot and wounded the suspect, Robert Stewart, who faces eight counts of first-degree murder. Prosecutors plan to seek the death penalty against him if he is convicted in the trial scheduled to start July 11.

Prosecutors say Stewart went to the nursing home looking for his estranged wife. She hid from him in a closet in the Alzheimer’s ward.

The families are seeking more than $10,000, including medical and funeral expenses and damages for pain and suffering.

Their lawyer, Mark McGrath, alleges that Stewart was “fully armed and ammoed up and was able to sashay through the door. No locked check points or anything.”

“He had his way with the whole facility, which was pretty frightening,” McGrath told The Fayetteville Observer in Thursday’s papers.

He is representing the families of victims Louise DeKler, 98, and John Goldston, 78.

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