Sniper Attack at North Hills Mall - Memorial Day, 1972


Last updated: September 3, 2016

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To leave or read comments about this narrative, see this Legeros Fire Blog posting.

Introduction

Last month, our attentions were commanded by a reported shooting and resulting major incident at Crabtree Valley Mall. Happened on a busy Saturday afternoon. Gunshots reported near the food court. Everyone running for cover, heading for the exits or taking shelter in stores. The mall was placed on lockdown as law officers arrived en masse. They searched the shopping center and evacuated hundreds of people, who were moved across the street to the Marriott.

No gunshot victims were found, but numerous medical emergencies presented during and after the evacuation. The resulting multi-patient incident brought dozens of EMS and fire units to the scene. Wake County EMS managed the incident over a number of hours, which included rehab for the responders working in temperatures over 100 degrees. (Heat index, that is.) We blogged about the incident, which included photos by Mike Legeros (Yours Truly).

But did you know that another Raleigh mall experienced a mass shooting over forty years ago? Though we blogged about this in 2008, let's take a longer look...

Sniper Kills Four, Wounds Eight at North Hills Mall

First, let's set the stage. In 1972, the city of Raleigh was about a quarter of its current population (128,314) and about a third of its current size (46.805 square-miles). Here's a map of the city's footprint in 1970, in the context of its fire stations. Both the fire and police departments were also about a third of their current size.

On Memorial Day in 1972, on May 29, a sniper killed three people and wounded eight others in front of North Hills Mall. (A fourth victim died at the hospital, days later.)

The noon-hour shooting lasted just a few minutes. The victims were sitting on benches outside the main entrance, standing at or walking toward the entrance, or driving past the entrance in a car. There was also a US Senator in the line of fire, though the attack was unrelated to his visit.

At about 12:05 p.m., from a spot between two parked cars about fifty feet from the front entrance, a tall man dressed in a suit began shooting in that direction.* He had a .22 caliber rifle and fired in bursts.

The gunman was Harvey G. McLeod, a 23-year old Raleigh resident who worked as a high-school janitor. He purchased the rifle that morning. In the space of five minutes, he fired fourteen shots.** He reloaded twice. And when he heard the sounds of approaching police cars, he turned his rifle upon himself.

Police officers, and soon rescue workers, descended upon the scene. So did news photographers, like Ken Cooke and Worth White for the News & Observer. They captured such front-page images as victims being treated, as well as the body and blood of the gunman on the ground.

The twelve victims ranged from three to 77 years of age. They were transported to Rex and Wake Memorial hospitals. Three were dead on arrival. A fourth victim died five days later. The others had injuries ranging from minor to serious.

The Raleigh Times, published that afternoon, contained four stories about the shooting, and no fewer than eleven stories the next day. The News & Observer ran eight stories on the day after the shooting. Together, they published over 50 stories in a week's time.

Below is an extended narrative, based on those news stories and other sources.

*Distance from gunman to his first victims estimated by myself.
**The total time that he was shooting varies in news reports. Some accounts say two minutes. Others say two to four minutes.

Click to enlarge:

The Victims

Severity Name Age Sex Residence Location at Time of Shooting Wound Hosp Notes
Killed James G. Henry 30 M Cary Main parking lot, in front of Ronson's Chest Rex Father of the two children victims.

Died on arrival.

Killed Melvin D. Harrison Jr. 23 M Raleigh Driving car eastbound, just past mall entrance Left template Wake Died on arrival.
Killed Jackie Wharton 47 F Raleigh Mall entrance, sitting on bench Neck Rex Friend of Elizabeth Edgerton

Died on arrival.
Killed Mrs. Jesse B. West 77 F Raleigh Ronson's entrance (?) Head Wake Died June 3.
Injured Wesley Hayden   M Alexandria, VA Mall entrance, standing near Left chest Wake

Released ~June 9.

Injured Terri Sue Henry 6 F Raleigh Main parking lot, in front of Ronson's Right chest and wrist Wake Daughter of James Henry.

Released June 3.

Injured Leroy B. Honeycutt Jr. 29 M Raleigh Mall entrance, walking out of Right forearm, flesh wound Wake Released May 29.
Injured Carol Ann Homovac 20 F Raleigh Mall entrance, walking past Left shoulder Wake  
Injured Mrs. Ralph Moody   F Raleigh Mall entrance, sitting on bench Face Wake  
Injured Carol Lynn Sutton 3 F Raleigh Main parking lot, in front of Ronson's Left thigh Wake Stepdaughter of James Henry.

Released June 3.

Injured David E. Waby 30 M Raleigh Ivey's entrance (?) Right chest Wake  
Injured Elizabeth Anne Edgerton 36 F Durham Mall entrance Shock, no gunshot Rex Friend of victim Jackie Wharton.

Released May 29.

Jackie Wharton and Mrs. Ralph Moody

The gunman's first victims were three people in front of the mall entrance on Six Forks Road: two women sitting on a bench and a man talking to them. The women were Jackie Wharton and Mrs. Ralph Moody. They were talking with Wesley Hayden, an aide to a US Senator who was also at the mall and narrowly escaped injury.

Wharton was shot in the neck and toppled from the bench. Moody was struck in the face. Wharton was pronounced dead on arrival at Rex Hospital. Mrs. Moody survived her injuries and was transported to Wake Memorial Hospital. She was listed in fair condition the following day.

Wharton had the day off from her temporary job as a receptionist and typist for the state. Though she usually spent the weekends with her aunt on Duncan Road, she was renting a room for the weekend on Hillsborough Street. "She had so little time to sew," told a friend to the Raleigh Times, "she stayed there and made a dress."

Wharton travelled to the mall using the Raleigh City Coach Lines Glenwood Avenue bus. When she boarded the bus downtown, she bumped into Elizabeth Edgerton, who had just arrived by bus from Durham. They were friends from when Wharton worked at the VA hospital, and had met at the Durham YWCA.

The two women hadn't seen each other "in a good while" Edgerton later told the Times. She had a hair appointment that she thought was near the mall. Neither of the women was in a hurry, so they decided to have lunch. After a quick bite at the North Hills Pharmacy lunch counter, they came outside to the main entrance. They both sat down on the bench.

After the shooting started and her friend was shot, Edgerton "stumbled, fell, and then ran" into Bryant's Florist and Gifts, shouting "she's been shot," reported the Times. She wasn't hit by any bullets, but was later treated and transported for shock.

Wesley Hayden

Hayden was standing at the front of the mall entrance with Wharton and Moody when he was shot in the chest. He later told the Raleigh Times that when the shooting started, he "heard two or three things that just sounded like firecrackers." He turned around and saw two children lying in the driveway "with their mother hovering over them." Looking past them, he saw the man later identified as the gunman.

He didn't immediately see a gun, either. Hayden was momentarily confused, wondering how the children had been hurt. He saw the man move, then saw the gun, and reacted. He turned to the left to take cover behind some parked cars. Then he was shot. "I didn't hear anything. I just felt the bullet and felt I had been shot," he said. He dropped or fell to the ground.

Hayden told the Times that he "lay there for I don't know how long," though probably just a few seconds. And he knew that he "still wanted to get the heck out."

He pulled himself behind the line of parked cars, half crawling, half staggering. He remembers a lady coming to him, putting his head in her lap, to comfort him. He later learned she was Mrs. Frank Cranor of Raleigh. "A good Samaritan when one was needed," he said of her. Another person, Bruce Bland, put a compress on his chest wound.

Hayden was transported to Wake Memorial Hospital, and underwent surgery. Both of his lungs were punctured. Explained Dr. Preston Gala to the Raleigh Times, the .22 caliber bullet "entered the right lateral chest wall and traversed the thorax, coming to rest in the left posterior chest wall."

He was listed in serious condition on the day after the shooting.

Artist's Reconstruction

Raleigh artist Bill Ballard reconstructed this view with the aid of witness statements. Wesley Hayden, wounded, is crawling out of the line of fire. Lying on the curb is Mrs. Jessie West, wounded. Around the bench is Mrs. Ralph Moody, injured, and Jackie Wharton, dead. From the May 30, 1972, Raleigh Times.

Leroy Honeycutt

After hitting the two women, the gunman fired at Leroy Honeycutt. He was walking out of the mall entrance, and was about thirty feet behind the two women on the bench. He saw them being shot, and then was struck in the arm.

"He shot at me next," he told the Raleigh Times. "I turned sideways a split second before he hit me. That probably saved me from getting a lot more seriously injured." He added, "It was horrifying because I never did see him" and "I didn't know where he was." The bullet only grazed his arm.

He continued, "I couldn't think. I just hit the dirt." Honeycutt then crawled into a bookstore. "Only thing I could recall was that I was being shot at, too," he told the Times. "I heard some more shots being fired while I was in the store," he added. "A couple of young girls who were in the store were hysterical. Everybody was in shock."

As he told the Times, he had trouble remembering what happened. "It happened so quickly." He remembered hearing the shots and thinking that a child was setting off firecrackers. "Then I heard people screaming."

Honeycutt worked in real estate and had come to the mall to have a sewing machine repaired. His wife, as it happened, was secretary to US Representative Nick Galifianakis, the opponent of Senator Everett Jordan, who was also at the mall that day. More on that in a moment.

He was transported to Wake Memorial Hospital.

The Henry Family

After shooting at the people at the mall entrance, the gunman fired at four people who were walking away from their parked car. They had parked just a few feet from the gunman. He hit James G. Henry, 30, his daughter Terri Sue Henry, 6, and his stepdaughter, Carol Lynn Sutton, 3.

Their mother told the Raleigh Times, "We were talking toward the entrance when I turned around and saw this man pointing at a gun at us. I thought 'It's over'." She then remembered throwing herself over the children.

Retta Law, watching from inside Ronson's while shopping with her husband Bill, saw the father get shot. She told the Raleigh Times that "the man fell in the intersection" and then the mother grabbed the children. "She crawled right on top of them. They were screaming and trying to get out from underneath but she keep pushing them under her." She added that "We were yelling for them to stay down. It was obvious [that the shooter] was taking aim at the first thing he saw."

Henry was shot in the chest, and was pronounced dead on arrival at Rex Hospital. Terri Sue was shot in the right chest and wrist, and Carol Lynn in the right thigh. They were transported to Wake Memorial Hospital.

Talking to reporters at Wake Memorial right after the shooting, Mrs. Henry said she didn't know the status of her husband. The hospital wouldn't tell her where her husband was, she told them. "I don't think he's here. The last time I saw him, they were pumping on his heart." She later learned that he was taken to Rex Hospital.

The family had come to the mall so James could purchase a slide rule for work. "It was his day off," Mrs. Henry told the Times. "He's off Monday and Tuesdays." They lived in Cary, having moved there three weeks ago. Her husband took a job as a mechanic at Whittaker Knitting Mills. "He was doing a good job," said a company spokesman to the Times.

After Henry and his daughters were shot, a man ran up to help and was also shot. He was David Waby, 30, a Raleigh resident. He was shot in the right chest and transported to Wake Memorial Hospital.

He may be the person that one of the blog readers recalled in 2008 as the man who stumbled into the jewelry section of Ivey's, through the store's front door. See later section.

Carol Homovac

The 20-year-old Raleigh secretary had just walked past the main entrance, when she heard three or four shots that sounded like firecrackers. As Carol Homovac told the News & Observer, she glanced about and saw an older woman topple from a bench, and two children struck by bullets. "Then I felt it," she told the newspaper. "It felt like someone touched me on the shoulder." She added, "There was a moment of confusion. I didn't know what had happened. But I said [to myself], whatever it is, I'm getting the hell out of here."

Homovac ran into the North Hills Pharmacy and headed for the druggist counter at the end of the store. "I touched my shoulder and when I drew back my hand, there was blood. I could feel it running down the back of my dress. Then I said, 'Help me, I've been shot.'" Joseph M. Rowe Jr., the pharmacist at the store, helped apply a cold compress to her head. He also used towels to pack down the back of her dress to slow the bleeding.

A couple seconds later after Homovac ran into the pharmacy, a man came into the store yelling, "Call an ambulance, call the police! There's a man out there shooting people!" Then another man ran into the store and asked if they sold guns. "He said he wanted to go out and shoot the sniper," Rowe told the News & Observer.

Homovac worked at the nearby North Hills Office Center. As it was a pretty morning that Monday, she decided to walk instead of driving home for lunch. She lived a block beyond the mall, and had cut across the parking lot.

With a gunshot wound to the shoulder, she was transported to Wake Memorial Hospital. After waiting over three hours, she underwent surgery to remove the .22 caliber bullet. Reported the newspaper, "she was listed in good condition, her wound draining and due to be stitched up under a local anesthetic Friday or Saturday."

In addition to her injury, she also endured the discomfort of attention at the hospital. Some visitors would stop in the corridor outside her room and whisper "She's one of the [shooting victims]," noted the newspaper. "It gives you a paranoid feeling," she said.

Eerie Quiet

The gunman also shot into at least one store. Retta Law remembers a woman running into Ronson's  from the parking lot. "There's a man out there with a gun," shouted the woman. The Laws instinctively headed toward the glass doors when the lower pane exploded from a rifle shot. When they looked outside, they saw the shooter with his rifle in hand, positioned between two cars, and tall enough to shoot over them.

"When I first got to the door" said Bill Law, "it was eerily quiet although he had opened up." He added, "People hardly seemed to be moving."

The "eerie quiet" was also observed by George Bryant, working the counter in his florist and gift shop at the main entrance. He had heard sounds like "firecrackers popping." Another person thought it was a car backfiring. After a moment of calm, people began "running and crawling" for the mall entrance, recalled Bryant.

The Laws watched helplessly as another man walked into the parking lot, and apparently unaware of the gunman. He walked straight into the line of fire. "We hollered at him to stay where he was because the gunman was obviously shooting anything that moved," Mrs. Law told the News & Observer. "We screamed through the door but he didn't realize anything at all was going on. It was quiet because even those who were hit didn't make any noise. Only the children were screaming." She added, "It seemed like an eternity that [the gunman] was aiming at the man. When he was hit, he didn't lurch but seemed to faint."

They watched as the wounded man "struggled to his feet, staggered toward the mall entrance, and collapsed on a curb beside a female victim," reported the News & Observer. Their bodies were described as "half on and off the curb" and "pointed in opposite directions." Based on the above artist's reconstruction, the Laws witnessed Wesley Hayden being shot.

Inside Ivey's

One of the victims ran into Ivey's department store and fell on the floor. Mary Ellen Shipman, the store's personnel director, was standing in the middle of the store when someone started screaming at the front door. "When I got up there a man was lying in the floor," she told the Raleigh Times. "He had been shot in the parking lot and ran into our store and fell on the floor."

She added, "I looked out in the parking lot and saw a well-dressed colored man with a rifle with a telescope lens [sight]." She continued, "He kept turning and shooting. Every time he shot, it looked like he hit someone. It looked as if he was picking his victims at random. But he took careful aim when he shot. Each time someone went down."

Melvin Harrison

Two people driving cars were fired upon. Melvin D. Harrison Jr., 23, was driving past the main entrance and toward Ivey's when he was shot. The bullet struck him in the left temple. His car continued to roll for several feet, veered a bit left, and crashed into one or more parked cars. Harrison was pronounced dead on arrival at Wake Memorial Hospital.

Harrison had driven to the mall to have lunch with his wife, Brenda. He did this often during the week. She worked at Ivey's and was waiting at the curb as his car approached. He was about fifty feet away from her, when he was struck. She hadn't seen his car coming, reported the Raleigh Times.

Harrison was self-employed, having started a new business about six months ago. He had been working for an electrical construction company. They had been married for just under a year. He was a native of New Bern, which was cited as his hometown in some news reports.

The gunman also fired at a car driven by a blonde woman, recounted Retta Law to the News & Observer. The bullet struck the driver's side window but missed the woman. Her car "ran out of control onto the curb." Though she wasn't hit, the driver was "jerking from head to toe," Law said.

Diagram


Based on an aerial photo by Ken Cooke taken two hours after the incident, this diagram shows the location of nine of the eleven shooting victims. The dotted line shows the path of the car driven by Melvin Honeycutt, who was shot and crashed into parked cars. The blue cross is the location of the gunman.

Senator Everett Jordan

By coincidence it was later determined, United States Senator B. Everett Jordan had just arrived at the mall. He was campaigning for his third-term and made an unannounced visit to the shopping center. He had just finished an interview at a radio station in Wendell, when a member of his group suggested that they go to Raleigh, and "shake some hands" at North Hills and Crabtree Valley malls.

The senator's party arrived at 11:15 a.m., and most of the group got out at the main entrance at the mall. Jordan spotted someone he knew right away: Mrs. Ralph Moody, wife of a long-time deputy attorney general. She and several other women were sitting on what the Times described as an "ornamental, circular bench" at the mall's entrance.

He stopped and talked with Jackie Wharton, Mrs. Moody, Mrs. Jessie West, and others who were near the entrance. After over a half hour of chatting, Dorothy Austell--a Wake County women's campaign chairman--told the Senator that they had to move on and meet with others at the mall. She took his arm and guided him toward the mall entrance, said the Times.

Jordan entered the mall through the plate glass door. He had walked about ten feet when the first shots were fired in their direction. "I heard something that sounded like somebody threw a rock against the glass," he told the News & Observer.

He looked outside and saw Mrs. Wharton "pitch forward" as if she'd been tripped. He started back outside, but Dorothy "grabbed me and said 'There's somebody shooting out there and she's been hit." The aide dragged the senator back inside. "I didn't quite get out," he added. "That was all I saw of it."

The Senator remained inside the mall until the police arrived, said the Times. Members of his party "went back outside to help the victims," but ordered Jordan to stay inside. About thirty minutes later, he left the mall and was taken to Wake Memorial Hospital in a police car. He went to the hospital chapel, to meet with families and pray for the victims.

Witnesses

Bill Law, a former Raleigh Mayor Pro Tem, told the Raleigh Times that he was inside Ronson's and shopping with his wife. When he heard the sound of the shots, he started heading out of the store. "There was a man already lying on the ground before me, apparently shot in the forehead. I told everyone around me to get down and back, and I ducked behind the pillar separating both doors at Ronson's." He adds, "It all happened in less than five minutes, probably only three, from the time I walked out until I heard the last shot." He also told the News & Observer that the sniper would fire his rifle, then squat down between the cars, then stand up, look around, and shoot again.

Lucius Pullen, Wake County campaign official for Senator Jordan, talked to the Raleigh Times. He was standing at the main entrance when the shooting started. "I saw them falling all around me, and then realized somebody was shooting. I dropped and crawled inside the mall." He adds, "I saw a big, hulking black man standing above the cars. He bent down and calmly reloaded his gun, just like he was standing in a field reloading. Then he raised up his rifle and started shooting again."

C. B. Barrett told the News & Observer that the shooter "stayed between two cars the whole time. I was trying to keep an eye on him. I didn't want him to run up on me and get me."

Weldon Strickland, a janitor at Ronson's, was cleaning a door window when he heard the shots. He told the Raleigh Times: "I thought it was kids shooting off play guns or toys." He was on the inside of the door when he "looked up and a bullet hit the glass. I saw a man and small little children fall, and I heard two or three more shots, but I don't know how many there were before I heard them."

Mrs. Audrey Harrell told the News & Observer that she had just parked her car in front of Wachovia Bank, and was walking toward K&W Cafeteria for lunch. "I heard some shots and looked to my right and saw someone standing in the parking lot shooting a gun," she told the News & Observer. "I thought it was a gag--you know, an advertising stunt [for] something going on at the Mall." She continued walking and didn't pay any more attention until she reached the door of cafeteria. Then a man grabbed her by the arm, and pulled her to one side, saying "'Get back! Get back! He's killing people!'" Then Harrell saw the car crash, and noticed the other people lying on the ground.

Warren Baldwin told WPTF: "I looked out and saw this guy with the rifle, and he looked he was taking deliberate aim at anybody he could see. He took his time and aimed well and shot. And then I saw him aiming in that direction. Towards Penney's at one time. And then he turned around, and there was a car coming down this way, and he took a shot at that person. And then he looked over in this direction and shot toward Ivey's.  And then I saw him [... get] some more shells out, and [he] loaded up again. [Then] I saw him turn the rifle around and point it toward his head. ][He] had his thumb in the trigger, and then I saw him go down like a ton of bricks."

Mary Ellen Shipman, personnel director for Ivey's: "He finally quit turning and shooting and stopped for a few minutes and looked in all directions. Then he turned the gun on himself" she told the Raleigh Times. "I didn't hear the shot, but his feet flew up in the air and he fell between two cars where he stood." She added, "People were running in all directions. They were running into different doors of stores to get inside." And, "You could hear the whine that a rifle [bullet] gives. But you couldn't hear them hit. Most of the victims just fell down."

Rev. Jim Whitaker, chaplain at the mall, told the News & Observer: "It really shook me up. I've never seen so many people hurt at once. I didn't know which one to go to first." He added, "I kept going from one person to another who had been shot and tried to comfort them." And he said, "I also tried to console a woman on the scene whose husband had been shot." He continued, "There were a lot of wonderful people of Raleigh who pitched in and tried to comfort those who were wounded and members of their family before the ambulances arrived."

After the ambulances left, Whitaker drove to the hospitals. Finding no family members at Rex Hospital, he continued to Wake Memorial. "There were families of at least four of the victims gathered there," he said. "They were assembled outside the hospital and information about the condition of the injured was relayed from the hospital to them. I don't see how the hospital could've been more cooperative." He spent two-and-a-half to three hours with the families, and left after they went home, or to the hospital rooms. Though he'd seen a lot of injured people during about six months at North Carolina Memorial Hospital in Chapel Hill--during training for his chaplaincy work--he said "Nothing compared with Monday's tragedy."

The Shooting Stops

After about five minutes of shooting, the bullets stopped. As the sounds of approaching police cars grew louder, the gunman turned his rifle on himself. He placed the barrel in his mouth and fired a single shot.

Warren Baldwin told the News & Observer "He was looking into the barrel when he pulled the trigger," said Baldwin. Jim Minick, manager of K&W cafeteria, told the News & Observer that he ran outside and saw the sniper falling. "He already shot himself," he said. "When I got to him the rifle was laying beside him."

Bill Phillips, visiting the mall, told the News & Observer that he found the gunman between two cars and lying face down. He had a head wound that was bleeding profusely. The rifle lay about three feet from his body.

Steve Berry, a sixteen year-old who had just left Wachovia, heard the shooting as he was walking outside. He saw a police car and the officer looking at a car that had crashed into a parked car. Everything was silent except for steam hissing from the radiator, reported the Raleigh Times. Berry ran over to the crashed car and "the guy still had his foot on the gas pedal, which sound like it was all the way to the floor," he told the Times.

Berry then heard someone shout "he's over there." He walked over to a row of parked cars and saw the gunman "lying prone on the pavement on his right side, with his side up against the car." Berry ran over to him and then saw a rifle lying on the ground beside him, about six inches from his head.

His first thought was to provide first aid, Berry told the Times. He had first aid training and also thought that the other victims--who were lying in full view on the pavement--would probably be receiving help quicker than someone lying between two parked cars. "I didn't think anybody could get to him," he said.

Berry moved the gun away from the gunman and then rolled him over on his back. "He was coughing blood, but he was still alive," he told the Times. He then rolled him on his left side "so he could breathe."

Berry then noticed that two teeth were missing from the front of the man's mouth. There was also a wound above his left eyebrow. Berry took out his handkerchief and pressed it against the wound, hoping to stop the bleeding. He held the man's head off of the pavement, but the blood continued to flow. "He never said anything," Barry added, shaking his head. "Nothing."

The teen kept trying to find a pulse, but never found one. The gunman was bleeding to death from his nose and mouth. Realizing the extent of the injuries, and seeing the "huge puddles of blood" on the pavement, he "threw his handkerchief to the pavement, stood up, and told a police officer who was standing close to him 'I think he's dead.'"

The body of the gunman remained in a roped-off area until it was removed from the scene in an ambulance.

Victims Emerge

Once the police cars arrived, those who had taken shelter inside "flocked outside" and began "congregating around the victims," reported the News & Observer.

A Hickory Farms employee told the Raleigh Times that she "went out to see if someone needed first aid." She was a nurse and there were "a lot of people, but people were not hysterical. They were very interested, but there was no hysteria."

Raleigh Times staff photo, from May 30 edition.

The Police Arrive

On the day of the shooting, "D" platoon of the police department was working day shift. There were likely around 40 uniformed personnel working in the city, including the 21 beat officers (three squads of seven officers each), unassigned officers, their supervisors, a few detectives, and a few motorcycle units. (The department had 231 total uniformed members out of 309 total personnel in FY72.)

When Police Captain C. H. Haswell arrived, he told the Raleigh Times, "people were lying all over the place." There were three in front of the entrance, two more in front of Ivey's, and another staggering into the door of the store. "Two small children and their father were lying on the curbing next to the traffic lane in front of the mall."

Police Major Edgar C. Duke, chief of the investigation division, was driving around the back of the shopping center, to an Exchange Club meeting at the North Hills Steak House, when someone told him that there had been an explosion. He called headquarters on the radio and reported the incident as a bomb explosion. The officer "drove up some" he told the Raleigh Times, but before he went any further, a man hollered that there was a man against a car with a gun.

Major Duke provided an alternate account to the News & Observer, saying he was driving past the front of Ivey's when he saw people lying on the street who had been shot. Then he heard a shot, and saw a man with a rifle between two cars. "I backed up behind a Dempsey Dumpster and called the station to send more men into the area," he said. Major Duke didn't hear another shot, and was then told by someone that the gunman had shot himself.

Based on a breaking news report from WPTF, one or more of the arriving officers believed that the gunman had fled the scene. They were reportedly searching for a "colored male carrying a military rifle." He was reportedly driving a blue Mustang. The State Highway Patrol was notified and was reportedly "searching for the man and the car."

This news report was issued about twenty minutes after the shooting. The search was probably cancelled even before the news report was broadcast, as the officers promptly discovered that the gunman had taken his own life. None of the newspapers noted the brief "be on the lookout" advisory.

How many police officers, from beat patrols to detectives, responded to the scene? To be determined. Did Wake County Sheriff deputies respond? To be determined. The State Highway Patrol also responded, as photographs show.

Did the mall have security guards? Don't believe so, as the newspaper stories contain only a single reference, in remarks by the Police Chief. He told the News & Observer that there was "absolutely" nothing security guards at the shopping center could have done to prevent the shooting.

Ambulance and Rescue Response

At 12:25 p.m., a police call for "all available ambulances and rescue trucks" was transmitted, reported the Raleigh Times. By that time, the Raleigh Fire Department rescue squad had already been dispatched at 12:18 p.m., to assist Beacon Ambulance at the mall.

Beacon Ambulance responded with three units: Beacon 5, 6, and 7. They were located at 209 Hillsborough Street.

Beacon 5 and 6 were first to respond, followed by Beacon 7 after an additional staff member arrived. Raleigh Fire Department Rescue 1, also capable of transporting patients, responded from Station 1. One of the fire chiefs also responded, likely a District Chief. He may have assisted with transporting patients.

One patient was transported in a Raleigh police car.

Transport Unit Destination Patients Identities
Beacon 5 Rex 3 Henry, Wharton, Edgerton
Beacon 6 Wake ? ?
Beacon 7 Wake 2 Two men
Rescue 1 Wake 3 Moody and two women.
Police Car Wake 1 ?

One fire department engine company was also called to the scene. Engine 9 was dispatched at 12:33 p.m. to wash away the gasoline from the wrecked cars. They also used their hoses to wash away the blood on the street and sidewalks. Reported the News & Observer, "There were pools of blood on the bench at the mall entrance, on the curb and beside [the gunman's] body. Firemen created red rivulets as they hosed the blood away."

Fire Calls, excerpt from the Raleigh Times, May 31

Bob Parrish - Beacon Ambulance

Beacon ambulance attendant Bob Parrish talked to the Raleigh Times after arriving at Rex Hospital. His unit transported James C. Henry and Jackie Wharton, both dead [on arrival], and Elizabeth Edgerton, in shock.

A four-year veteran with Beacon, he said "It was a damn big mess. It was bad. This is the worst thing I've seen" he told the Times as he wiped the sweat off his face with a bloody sheet. Noted the Times, "there was blood all over the ambulance floor" as well as on his shirt. He recalled, "We pulled to the scene and all you could see were people lying around. They were so spread out."

He added, "People kept pulling on us and saying, 'that person needs help and this person needs help.' I've had plane crashes, but this was the worst." Recounted the Times, Parrish was heading into the hospital when he was met by Assistant Wake Coroner Truman Rhodes: "Slapping Parrish on the shoulder in sympathy, he asked, 'Had a hard time?' 'Yes sir, I had a hard time,' said Parrish, repeating 'Yes sir, yes sir.'"

Fred Loy - Beacon Ambulance

Beacon ambulance attendant (and founding Wake County EMS member) Fred Loy remembers the day: "Beacon received a call on the police direct line about the shooting. Beacon 5 and 6 responded from our base on Hillsborough Street. They had five ambulances, but only two were manned (with two people each) on a 24-hour basis."

"I was also at the office, waiting on someone, when all 'H' was breaking loose at the mall. Jim Huffsteler arrived and we took Beacon 7 to the scene. When we arrived, police and fire already had the patients ready. We didn't have to go to them. They started loading them into the back. Two adult males."

"As we started to Wake Memorial--with Jim driving and me in the back--the one on the portable stretcher quit breathing. This ambulance had a full resuscitator, so I put it on him. Then the patient on the regular stretcher quit breathing. I put him on regular air (oxygen) and wedged myself between both stretchers. I started chest compressions, while telling Jim to call Wake for some help on the dock."

"They were waiting for us at the hospital. When Jim backed up, someone was standing between the ambulance and the loading dock. I didn't see this, and thought the ambulance had backed flush against the dock. The back door opened, and they took the patient on the portable stretcher first."

"Then they pulled out the regular stretcher. I was still giving chest compressions, and as they pulled the stretcher out, I didn't see the drop between the ambulance and the dock. Well, down I went. And as I looked up, there was Fred Taylor with Channel 5 (WRAL) taking pictures. Yes, he got the fall, and it was broadcast on CBS news that night. My five seconds of fame."

"I also remember that Beacon 5 took their patients to Rex Hospital that day. They had a minor collision at the bottom of the ramp. Tommy Royal was driving and there wasn't much damage. They continued on to the emergency room, without stopping, and the police later understood."

Available Ambulance Services

Beacon ambulance on Hillsborough Street in the early 1970s

In May 1972, there were several emergency ambulance providers in Raleigh and Wake County, including:

  • Beacon Ambulance Service - Five ambulances (two staffed 24/7) at one location.
  • Raleigh Emergency Rescue Squad - One rescue squad, at Fire station 1.
  • Apex Volunteer Rescue Squad - One ambulance, with second added late May/early June, 1972.
  • Community Ambulance in Zebulon - One ambulance, operated by Screws and Hudson Funeral Home.
  • Furina Rescue Squad - One ambulance.
  • Wake Forest Rescue Squad - One ambulance, at least.
  • Wendell Rescue Squad - One ambulance and one station wagon.

Notes:

  • Cary Area Rescue Squad had organized by this time, but were still awaiting delivery of their first ambulance.
  • Furina Rescue Squad was more commonly called Fuquay-Varina Rescue Squad.
  • Overby Funeral Home in Raleigh had ceased ambulance services circa 1971.
  • Ambulance Aid in Raleigh had also apparently ceased operations in or by 1971.
  • Other funeral homes in Wake County may have still operated ambulances, but most ended those services in the early 1970s.

At Rex Hospital

Durwood Barbour Collection of North Carolina Postcards (P077), North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives, Wilson Library, UNC-Chapel Hill

Three victims were transported to Rex Hospital, then still located on St. Mary's Street:  James Henry and Jackie Wharton, both dead on arrival, and Elizabeth Edgerton, in shock.

Reported the Raleigh Times, "as [the ambulance] brought in the victims, nurses, orderlies, patients and visitors stood around and watched. Even after the ambulance floor was hosed down [of blood], the group continued to stare at the ambulance in shock." Inside, the activity was "outwardly less hectic than at Wake Memorial."

Noted the newspaper, "only a couple of persons checked [at Rex] hospital for relatives because most of the victims had been taken to Wake [Memorial]."

The husband of Mrs. Ralph Moody "stood quietly starting straight ahead in the hallway outside of the emergency room," while "his pastor, Rev. John Lewis, of First Baptist Church, checked with hospital officials to find out the condition" of Moody's wife. Reported the Times, "'She's over at Wake, Ralph. She's going to make it,' Lewis said, taking Moody's arm and guiding him out of the hospital."

Into the hospital came a "young woman in shorts and a t-shirt," reported the Times, "looking for the husband of her friend who saw him shot." She asked the nurse, "Is Mel Harrison here?" The nurse "disappeared into an office to check" and "another nurse came out and told her check Wake Memorial." Harrison was one of the three who were killed.

Hospital Director Joseph Barnes "kept an eye on the proceedings and helped with the identification process," reported the Times. "'How can we identify them when we don't know who they are,' he said helplessly at one point." Jackie Wharton, another of those killed, didn't have any identification on her person. She was later identified by her friend Elizabeth Edgerton, who was standing next to her, and was wounded in the shooting.

Barnes told the newspaper that "hospital officials had difficulty locating Henry's [two children that had been shot] because he was from Cary." Then they learned that the children were at Wake. He told a nurse, "If the children are there, for God's sake get the mother with them." At the same time, Henry's wife was at Wake with her children, trying to find her husband.

There was an elevator operator nearby who "kept passer-bys informed of the latest rumors and redirected hospital personnel from the area where the two dead [people] were being kept for the coroner's examination." He told the Times, "They don't want anyone to see [the bodies]. They look bad."

The Times noted that the hospital workers "appeared mildly interested in the day's events and talked casually in the manner that only those who are constantly around sickness and death can talk." Said one lab technician on her way to lunch, reported the Times, "I'm glad I didn't take any sick leave today to go shopping."

At Wake Memorial Hospital

Durwood Barbour Collection of North Carolina Postcards (P077), North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives, Wilson Library, UNC-Chapel Hill

Wake Memorial Hospital was informed of the arriving patients by telephone. They were told of the shooting, and that there were many people with injuries. When the victims started arriving, the scale of the situation became apparent. The hospital cancelled all surgery and the operating rooms kept available for the shooting victims.

There was a hushed hurriedness to get wounded victims in for treatment, reported the Raleigh Times. Outside were three red and white "rescue squad trucks" that had transported the victims, who were being treated in "two parts of the emergency room." Hospital officials, however, declined to release information about the victims. "The police know as much as we do," one told the Times.

Hospital administrator William Andrews was out of town that day, added the Times, and a "multitude of other officials were filling in to keep order in the emergency room." In the ER waiting room, a nurse asked patients waiting to see doctors to return later. "We've got an emergency here and we need to make room," reported the Times.

Those who remained in the room "looked shocked" as a bed rolled by bearing one of the shooting victims. The newspaper described the patient as "draped in white, save for a bloody bandage clutched over the right side of her face." As the bed rolled past, Director of Nursing Larry Sink yelled "Make way" and he and a nurse pushed the patient around the corner and on her way to surgery.

Observed those nearby "What would make a man do something like that," asked a woman in a "hushed" voice. "He must have been crazy." Added Betty Cranor, who rode in the rescue squad with three of the victims. "It was terrible." She told the Times, "I was just coming up to the mall after it happened. Bodies were lying out front and one just inside the door."

Another bed rolled down the hall, continued the Times. One of the two little girls, Terri Sue Henry, "looked into the faces of those around her" as she passed. Then a third patient was rolled down the hall, the nurse's face "strained" as she rolled them into the emergency room. It was a woman with her head swathed in bandages.

Senator Jordon arrived with several of his "campaigners." Reported the Times, he said "Tell Wes we're here and we're praying for him" and "Tell him I've got his wallet." Hospital officials whisked him down to the hospital's chapel, where the senator visited with the families of the injured. Noted the Times, "Police, campaign workers and press stood outside the door [of the chapel], talking of the events in hushed tones."

The wife of Henry James walked out of the emergency room, her "yellow and white shorts outfit splattered with blood." She said "My whole family was shot--my husband, daughter and stepdaughter" and "The girls weren't hurt too badly, but I don't know where my husband is. He's not here." Noted the newspaper, she then began to cry.

A nurse brought her daughter, Carol Lynn Sutton, to her. "Where's Terri, Mommy," the girl asked of her stepsister. Her mother explained that she was having her "picture made." Carol's thigh was bandaged where the bullet went through, but she was reluctant to show her mother. Mrs. Henry then headed down the hall to the telephone, to call her mother in Virginia. Her mother, however, had already heard about the shooting on the national news. 

Two other women were in surgery, and doctors and nurses in the emergency room "coordinated efforts" to identify them, reported the Times. "I've got eight [patients] that came in," said a nurse.

Fourth Victim Dies

The conditions of all but one victim at Wake Memorial Hospital improved over the coming days. Mrs. Jessie B. West had remained unconscious and in critical condition since the shooting. By June 1 her condition was reported by the News & Observer as critical and deteriorating. She had been moved to the intensive care unit.

On June 3, the hospital reported that Mrs. West had died at 1:55 a.m. Said the Raleigh Times, she was a retired employee of the State Department of Revenue and lived alone in Cameron Court Apartments. She was shot near the front entrance of the mall.

Remaining Victims

On June 9, the Wilmington Star-News reported that Wesley Hayden was planning to leave the hospital that day. He had been hospitalized for nearly two weeks. Doctors left the .22 caliber bullet embedded against his chest wall, and would leave it there unless it caused trouble. The bullet nicked a checkbook and passed through a pocket directory of state news media. "It may have saved my life," he said. His glasses case, however, was unscathed.

As he told the Times, he had received many cards and letters from people that he didn't know. One came from his Army commanding officer, who he hadn't since 1942, and was now an Illinois state senator.

Hayden planned to spend a month recuperating, and then would join the Senator during his final six months in office. Jordan failed to be re-nominated in the Democratic primary the week before. He and his wife were planning to return to Alexandria by car. His wife would drive, as by strict doctor's orders. No driving for her husband!

Two other victims remained hospitalized at Wake Memorial Hospital. In fair condition were Mrs. Ralph Moody and David Wabry. All of the other shooting victims had been released.

Graphic Photos, Graphic Descriptions

As was customary in that era, graphic photos and descriptions of the victims appeared in published news reports. Pictures of the gunman's deceased body--between two cars, with blood on the pavement by his head--were also transmitted across national wire services.

The front page of the News & Observer on May 30 featured this photograph by Ken Cooke with the caption "Dead gunman and weapon - The body of Harvey Glenn McLeod lies behind Detective C. A. Watson and State Trooper James Huffine who are examining the rifle used by McLeod."

The Wilmington Morning News featured one of the photos on the front page of its May 30 city edition. The issue also included a tally of the victims and their specific injuries:

Radio Updates

Within 20 minutes of the first shot, WPTF radio was broadcasting its first news bulletin: "In regional news, Raleigh police are searching for a colored male carrying a military rifle who has shot at least six persons at North Hills Shopping Center within the past hour. No explanation for the shooting was given. All that is known at present is that six persons were injured when shot by a black male driving a blue Mustang automobile. Units of the Highway Patrol are now searching for the man and the car." 

During the following 30 minutes, more intermittent updates were broadcast. The news director Bob Farrington went directly to the scene.  The Senator's presence was a prominent part of each update. The radio news reports referred to the incident repeatedly as "the bizarre shooting." By 5:00 p.m., nearly the entire story was known. Complete details of the incident were being broadcast.

The radio reports from Raleigh were also provided for free to other radio stations around the country. The information from WPTF was even broadcast overseas, including in Sydney, Australia.

Listen to a WPTF retrospective: Part 1 and Part 2.

Aftermath

Even after the ambulances left, reported the News & Observer, "the horror seemed to electrify the air." Many faces in the crowd wore what looked like stunned expressions. Police Chief Robert Goodwin stood and looked down on a "large piece of brown paper that had been placed over a puddle of blood." That was the spot where the gunman fell after shooting himself.

"It sounded like a string of firecrackers" said one witness to the newspaper, "Then I saw these people falling." Another person who saw the shooting, a woman, "kept her hands over her throat" as she said "He was standing right over there between those two cars" and "he was aiming the gun." Said another man, "You read about this kind of thing in other places [...] but now it's come to Raleigh."

Police directed traffic for several hours afterward, as "hundreds of the curious decided to shop or just look" reported the next day's Raleigh Times.

They also talked to people at the mall, where both shoppers and onlookers were discussing the shooting or "just shaking their heads in disbelief." One woman shopper said to another, "It's getting so you can't even go out shopping any more without fear of getting killed," reported the Times. "I don't know; I just can't believe it happened right here," said another woman at the mall entrance. "I just can't believe."

Others gave their opinions to the newspaper: "I think it's just horrible" said a high school student; "It's very shocking" said a Ronson's employee, adding "It's just hard to believe it happened." "I don't think there were any motives. He probably was just a crazy man," said one man. "Maybe he just went berserk," said another woman, adding "When I first heard it on the radio, I thought it was probably a robber."

The assistant manager of the ABC store at the mall saw the automobile crashing and thought "maybe it was a tornado or something because there was a huge black cloud above." After heading to the parking lot, he saw "the most awful thing I've ever seen."

George Wallace

Alabama Governor George Wallace sent a message of sympathy on the day of the shooting. He was in Silver Spring, MD, recuperating from his own gunshot wounds, after an attempt on his life in nearby Laurel.

The News & Observer on May 30 included a story citing similarities between the two shootings, based on an eleven-paragraph Associated Press story. They included:

  • Both occurred at suburban shopping centers.
  • Both men were shaking hands with supporters when the shooting started.*
  • Both men were campaigning.
  • Both shootings happened on a Monday.

Notable differences? Governor Wallace was hit, while Senator Jordan was not. And no one in Maryland was killed, but three others were wounded.

* Jordan was no longer greeting people when the shots were fired. He had already stepped away, and had entered the mall.

Gunman Identified

The gunman was quickly identified as Harvey Glenn McLeod, a 22 year-old black male and resident of Raleigh. He lived with his wife on Curtis Drive. He was employed as a janitor at Broughton High School. He was six-foot, five-inches tall.

McLeod also had a police record. On Saturday, May 27, he was arrested for filing a false report about a stolen car. He was booked at 12:01 a.m. on Sunday, and released at 2:04 a.m. on $200 bond. He was bailed out by "professional bondsman" William A. Glenn. 

Last year, he had spent over four months in prison for aggravated assault.

His first encounter with the police was in 1964, when he was fourteen years-old. "He was charged at that time with assault with a deadly weapon" said Raleigh Police Chief Robert Goodwin at a press conference on Monday afternoon, reported the News & Observer. He was later arrested in 1967 for larceny of an automobile and in 1971 for assault with a deadly weapon with intention to kill. The disposition of the charges were not present in police records, noted the newspaper.

In July 1971, he was sentenced to serve six months in prison, after stabbing a young white male at Lions Park, during a basketball game. At the time of his arrest, McLeod was working at the Coca-Cola Bottling Company on South Wilmington Street.

The judge recommended that he be allowed to serve his term in a work release program. He was evaluated by both a social worker and a psychiatrist at the prison, and placed in a work release program at Hickory Farms Restaurant on Highway 70 near Garner. One of those evaluations was inadvertently shared with a reporter in Greensboro. More on that in a moment.

His parents told the News & Observer that they didn't know of any marital, financial, or job-related problems, or that their son had any political hang-up. They couldn't think of a reason why he had gone to the bank, withdrawn his money, bought a gun, and shot men, women, and children that he didn't know.

However, his mother said that he was depressed. She told the Raleigh Times "I could see he was depressed. I had talked about seeing a doctor for him. But I didn't believe he was that sick." The Times added that one theory heard that week was that McLeod was depressed about the possibility of going back to prison. As noted above, he had been charged with filing a false police report on the day before the shooting.

His mother also told the Raleigh Times that her son had suffered "blackouts" as a child. Though school officials recommended that she take her son to Duke Hospital for tests, she declined. As she told the Times, she didn't want anyone "messing with his brain."

The Raleigh Times interviewed classmates of McLeod's from Ligon High School, where he graduated in 1969. Some remembered him for always dressing neat, others as shy and withdrawn. Some said he was personable and friendly, others could only remember seeing his face.

Said Charles B. Robinson: "Some people are tight with some certain people and others are tight with other people, but old Harv was tight with everybody. He never had any enemies because he never did anything to anybody that would make them an enemy." He played on the basketball team in his senior year, said Robinson, but nobody on the team really got to know McLeod. "He wasn't an outcast at all," he said, "He just seemed to us to be a shy type of guy."

Said  Donnell Patterson: "He would always dress extra neatly at school. Sometimes when you saw him he'd be wearing something like a green pair of pants with a purple shirt." He added to the Times, "And that was before things like that were the fashion." Said Lewis Buffaloe, his most striking trait was "the way he never said much." None of his classmates remembered McLeod as aggressive. Said Jay Asbury: "I never remember him bothering anybody" and "he just never did anything aggressive at all." He never started fights or jokes, he added. He just wasn't that sort of fellow. "He just never made a lot of noise," said Asbury.

McLeod was buried on June 1. The Raleigh Times reported that some 200 people attended the funeral service in the chapel of Haywood Funeral Home on East Cabarrus Street.

Police Investigation

The Raleigh Police Department was assisted by the State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

The weapon was a .22 caliber Marlin semi-automatic rifle. It was a smaller caliber copy of the famous M-1 carbine used in World War II. The 37-inch rifle retailed for about $55. It held nine cartridges. Twelve spent shell casings were found near McLeod's body. He was carrying another seventy-five shells. Three boxes of cartridges were found in his pockets when his body was searched at the scene.

On May 31, the police said that the autopsy found no traces of drugs or alcohol in his body. The following day, Wake County Medical Examiner Dr. William W. Hedrick told the Raleigh Times that he had found no evidence of any physical condition that might explain McLeod's actions. There was no obviously malignancy or tumor in his brain, he said. Additional studies on McLeod's brain tissue would be performed during the next ten days.

Hedrick also provided details on McLeod's fatal wound. He said that the .22 caliber bullet entered the brain just above the eyes in the middle of the forehead. McLeod had apparently placed the muzzle directly against or close to his forehead.*

The investigators interviewed every witness who saw McLeod in the parking lot of the mall. "We are trying to reconstruct exactly what happened took place out there yesterday," said Raleigh Detective Major E. C. Duke to the News & Observer.

Investigators traced McLeod's movements on the morning of the shooting, and established the order of events that day:

8:30 a.m. to 8:45 a.m. Left home on Curtis Drive, going to bank.
9:00 a.m., few minutes after Arrived at Wachova Bank on Fayetteville Street. Withdrew $101 and closed his personal savings account.
[ not reported ] Left and went to parent's house on Dorothea Drive. Paid back father for $30 he had earlier borrowed.
10:30 a.m., about Arrived at Thorne's Hardware at 416 W. South Street. Bought the rifle used in the killings.
[ not reported ] Returned to home on Curtis Drive. Remained there with his wife.
12:00 p.m., just before Left for mall.

At the hardware store, McLeod walked in and asked "May I see some .22s," reported the News & Observer. He was shown two or three rifles, and was concerned about how many shells the rifle would hold, said clerk Rosa Rand to the Raleigh Times.

Rand also told the Times that she had known McLeod all her life. They talked about their families, before McLeod asked for the rifle. "He seemed to be his usual self," she said.

McLeod completed a federal purchase form, and noted "no" to the question "have you ever been convicted of a crime." He paid $54.95 for the rifle, the list price, and left the store.**

*This contradicts witness statements who recalled seeing McLeod place the barrel of the gun inside his mouth.

**The Raleigh Times on May 31 ran a story on buying guns, and how rifles were easier to obtain than pistols. Federal laws required that buyers complete a form for both types of guns, including swearing that they hadn't committed any crime with a prison term of more than one year. For pistols, state law further required a permit from a sheriff's office. That process required a second person present to swear that the buyer was someone "of good repute."

Two Possible Motives Eliminated

There were no notes found on McLeod's body, and investigators worked to determine his motives. By the end of the investigation, they had eliminated two possibilities.

The shooting was not thought to be motivated by race "because he shot at a black [person] who was cleaning a glass window," noted Police Chief Robert Goodwin on May 31. "All indications are [that he took] very careful aim at each of his victims, including this individual." And added, "We can only let these facts speak for themselves. Any more statements on our part would be speculation."

Nor did they believe the shooting was motivated by politics. They didn't find "any political motivation or political activities on the part of [McLeod] or any other activities that would indicate any malice toward any political candidate." He wasn't even registered to vote in Wake County, noted Election Board officials. Additionally, the appearance of Senator Jordan at the mall was unplanned. The decision to visit the shopping center was made only shortly before he arrived.

Investigation Closes

The Police Chief's comments were made on May 31, and at the same time he announced that the police department's investigation was closed.

"In taking all the above facts and circumstances under consideration, we are closing our investigation into the matter, for it would not, in our opinion, serve any useful purpose [to continue]," said Chief Goodwin.

Though it could be reopened, he added, if new information was obtained. Seven people were still hospitalized at that time, including one in critical condition.

SBI Director Charles Dunn told the Raleigh Times on the morning of June 1 that "for all practical purposes" they had finished their work.

FBI Special Agent Henry Boger, in charge of the state's FBI office, said on the same day that their investigation was still open. Boger told the Times that several agents were still working and they had a number of people to interview including McLeod family members and others who were shot.

News Investigation

The local newspapers also dug into McLeod's background, the circumstances of the shooting, and speculation about his motives.

On the day of the shooting, the Raleigh Times asked several local psychiatrists for their opinions on "what would cause a person to methodically shoot [people] he doesn't know and then kill himself."

One answered that someone with a "shaky emotional makeup" might find frustrations hard to handle. And those frustrations might be real obstacles, or something he felt entitled to, but wasn't getting. Another psychiatrist said "There's just something in a person with a shaky emotional background that sometimes reaches the critical point." He added, "What it is, we don't know."

A third noted that a person's intellect was at the mercy of their emotions. "When a person enters into a murderous mood, he can very well arrange things, assign ingenuity to his psychotic mood," he said. "He can be very cunning, his intellect serves his ugly mood. He knows what he is doing but he isn't able to refrain from the behavior," the psychiatrist added. "He also knows the difference between right and wrong but he offers explanations to put himself outside what is right or wrong," he added.

The third psychiatrist added that someone in a "murderous rage" is often "calm and methodical" in their behavior. And that it wasn't unusual for someone who kills to take their own life. It was called the Sampson Syndrome. "I may die, but I'll take you with me," he added.

A fourth psychiatrist said that it was more characteristic of a killer to be targeting one person. "But then there was the guy in the tower in Austin, TX," he added. "He planned to shoot wild and at random."

Prison Evaluations

While incarcerated at Central Prison in 1971, McLeod was evaluated by both a social worker and a clinical psychologist.

Social worker Charles Berry conducted a lengthy intake interview, and concluded that McLeod was prejudiced against white people and might go "off the deep end" in the event of an emotional crisis, reported the Raleigh Times.

Instead of work release, McLeod was placed under observation at the prison's placement center. He was evaluated by psychologist Wayne N. Hurr. His report was submitted to prison officials on August 11, and in the absence of alarming findings, McLeod was subsequently placed on work release.

The disparity in the two reports was noted in newspaper stories. The Raleigh Times reported on June 1 that the psychologist disagreed with the original evaluation. Details of the psychologist's report were not available, however.

The Greensboro Daily News was inadvertently allowed access to McLeod's prison records, which included a copy of the social worker's report. State Corrections Commissioner Lee Bounds later said that sharing those records was a mistake.

Bounds declined to provide details on the psychologist's report, nor to share other information from McLeod's prison record.

Asked about such records, Assistant State Attorney General Jacob Safron told the News & Observer that state law makes prison inmates records available to police, but not to the public. "And if it is not available to the public, it is not available to the press," he added.

Click to enlarge:

Another Attack on June 24

At about 1:00 a.m. on Saturday, June 24, a man with a .22 caliber Winchester rifle fired at least eight shots into Union Bus Station on Morgan Street. He stood across the street in a parking lot, reported the Raleigh Times. He fired at the front doors from between two parked cars.

Raleigh police officer P. J. McCann was on "private duty" and sitting with officer B. R. Turner in the bus station's restaurant. That's when he heard what sounded like a mop handle slapping against the floor twice.

About 100 people were in the terminal when the shooting started. Everybody started ducking to the floor, he told the Times. Officer McCann rushed outside and saw the shooter. Officer Turner went the other way, to the police station, which was a block away.

McCann took cover behind a car parked at the station's entrance, reported the Times. Four other people were also hiding there.

The officer fired twice at the gunman, who was over 200 feet away. He didn't hit him. The shooter's rifle then jammed. "When he started walking off, I ran up to him and he offered no resistance," he told the Times.

After the rifle jammed, the gunman walked away, and stopped to put the gun back in a box, McCann told the News & Observer. "He was in a very unusual mood for the situation," he added. "He was nonchalant when I caught up with him, and later he was laughing about it."

Added McCann, "If he had had the gun in his hand, I might have had to shoot him. There is no doubt in my mind that I could have. I'm just thankful that he put it back in the box."

The gunman was identified Warren G. Stephenson, 49. He lived in Raleigh on Polk Street, in a rooming house for men. He was believed to be a construction worker.

He had a box of bullets in his pocket, as well as a large sum of money. He had purchased his rifle about two months ago, and this was his first time firing it.

Stephenson also compared his actions to the North Hills shooting. Said another officer to the News & Observer, "I asked him about it" and "he said that the man at North Hills had a better rifle and had daylight so he could see and aim better."

The gunman was charged with assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill, firing into an occupied building, and firing a gun inside the city limits, added the newspaper. He was being held at the Wake County jail under $10,500 bond.

In his room on Polk Street, detectives found several newspapers and a copy of Confidential Detective magazine, reported the News & Observer. That issue had pictures and stories on several shooting incidents, with such titles as "Two Bullets Per Victim."

Wake Memorial Gets a Chaplain

The North Hills shooting compelled Wake Memorial Hospital to hire its first chaplain. Prior to the incident, clergy members and other "faith leaders" tended to members of their own congregations when hospitalized, noted a News & Observer retrospective in 2015.

After the shooting, and as the local population increased, hospital officials saw the need for "faith-based support" on staff. They hired their first chaplain in 1972. Within three years, they had hired educators "to guide residents and interns" through the Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) program. "They are clinically trained to understand more deeply the conversations and are able to offer more helpful insights,” said Lil Galphin. “It’s a practical kind of education that extends their divinity school education.”

Memories

Dale Johnson, as a reader comment in 2008:  "Being that it happened in 1972, not many people know about it outside of Raleigh. If it happened today, it would be around the country (if not the world) by 13:30. [Engine 9] went to clean up the blood. Beacon Ambulance sent several ambulances out, along with [Rescue 1]. I was fourteen at the time [and my] girlfriend called me that night and told how their teacher at Carroll Junior High would not let them leave the classroom. A friend of mine at what was then Aycock Junior High had a sister that had dated the shooter for a while just before the incident. Amazing [back then how you] knew a lot of people all over the city."

Ken Butler, as a reader comment in 2008: "Mel was my best friend. He pledged Sigma Pi at NCSU, and I was his big brother there. His wife was named Brenda, who, yes, worked at Ivey’s. He went to pick her up for lunch. It was just supposed to be lunch with his beautiful young wife. He and Brenda were my good friends. I maintained contact with her for a while. She came to my wedding, as I recall. She later remarried, and I lost contact. My sincere best wishes to her for a happy and fulfilled life."

Rhea, as a reader comment in 2008: "I was there that day, working at Ivey’s. One woman who worked in my department went up to meet her newlywed husband for lunch. As he drove up, he was shot in the head and did not survive. Another man stumbled into the jewelry section, [through the] front door of Ivey's, and fell to the floor."

Charles Murray, blog reader in 2016: "My parents took me there that day, there was [still] blood [and] a lot of it by a storm drain, and bullet holes in the glass at Ronson's."

Angie O'Neal, as a reader comment in 2008: "We lived in Wendell at the time, about 20 minutes outside of Raleigh. My mother took me (age 6) and my older sister (age 9) to the mall to shop several days after, and I remember that there was still blood on the pavement. It really scared me, and I remember her being really upset, because she had not realized that there would still be remnants of the shooting. I remember her covering my sister’s eyes with one hand, holding my hand with her other hand and telling me to just close my eyes and follow her into the mall. It must have really made an impact because today, at 44 years old, I still remember the incident."

Response Then & Now

Let's compare the North Hills Mall shooting with the response to the Crabtree Valley Mall incident, for fire and rescue/EMS resources.

  1972 2016
Patients / Patient Contacts 12 transported, not including gunman 20 patient contacts
9 transported
Severity of Injuries 11 gunshot wounds, 1 shock No gunshot wounds
Injuries related to evacuation
Ambulances / EMS 3 ambulances
1 rescue squad

21 paramedic ambulances
2 advanced practice paramedics (APP)
4 district chiefs
1 special operations support unit
1 ambulance bus
1 ambulance mini-bus
2 convalescent ambulances
2 state medical assistant team rehab units
Medical Director, two chief officers
Fire 1 engine company, for clean-up
1 district chief
4 engine companies, as first responders
1 battalion chief
1 division chief

In 1972, the fire and rescue response was minimal. A handful of transport units, with personnel trained in advanced first aid. Maybe also an EMT or two. (The state EMS system and EMT program was still a year away.) There were no fire department responders. That program--which sends an engine or ladder company to all emergency medical calls--was still several years away. The one engine company that did respond in 1972 was dispatched as a clean-up call.

In 2016, the EMS response was extensive. Over 20 paramedic ambulances, plus additional paramedics as District Chiefs and Medic cars. Plus special operations units, including a medical ambulance bus and State Medical Assistant Team (SMAT) rehab units. Plus a couple convalescent ambulances as additional transport resources. And some Chief Officers as well as the Medical Director.

The fire response was also larger, with four engine companies as first responder and manpower assistance. All firefighters are trained at the level of EMT-D. As the scope of the incident unfolded, a Battalion Chief and a Division Chief also responded. They assisted the incident commanders with managing the scene.

Historical Perspectives

The Wikipedia entry on rampage killers lists 59 incidents of firearms-only violence in the United States from 1889 to 2016. Four occurred in North Carolina:

Perpetrator Date Year Location Killed Wounded
Harris, Will, 29  Nov. 13 1906 Asheville 5 12
McLeod, Harvey Glenn, 22  May 29 1972 Raleigh 4 7
French, Kenneth Junior, 22  Aug. 6 1993 Fayetteville 4 7
Stewart, Robert Kenneth Wayne, 45  Mar. 29 2009 Carthage 8 2

In 1972, no other mass shootings were listed in the article.

How did the decade of the 1970s compare with others, for number of incidents? The Centre for Research and Globalization's Mass Shootings in America: A Historical Review, provided these perspectives in 2013:

By decade:

1900s 0
1910s 2
1920s 2
1930s 9
1940s 8
1950s 1
1960s 6
1970s 13
1980s 32
1990s 42
2000s 28
2010-2013 14

About the Mall

North Hills Mall opened in 1960 as a strip mall, and was reconstructed as an enclosed mall in 1967. It was Raleigh's first enclosed mall, and the first two-story, air-conditioned indoor mall between Washington, DC, and Atlanta. (A larger mall at nearby Crabtree Valley opened in 1972.) The design was a simple rectangle with two floors. The upper entrance faced Six Forks Road and the lower entrance faced a parking deck on Lassiter Mill Road.

The original anchor stores were J.C. Penney, Ivey's, and Woolworth. At the opposite end of the mall from Penney's was a large fountain. This was later removed, and the space became part of a restaurant. The south end of the mall also included North Raleigh's first public library (downstairs rear) as well as the long-popular K&W Cafeteria (upstairs front).

The mall also featured a number of clothing stores, and was also called "North Hills Fashion Mall" for a time.

Across the street on Lassiter Mill Road was North Hills Plaza, a single-story strip mall that included the single-screen Cardinal Movie Theater and a Winn-Dixie Grocery store.

In 1984, the mall was extensively renovated, with several new stores added to fill vacant spaces. In 1999, the property was purchased by Kane Realty, with plans to renovate and reconstruct the deteriorating shopping center.

The property was purchased in 2001 for redevelopment as a low-rise, pedestrian-friendly shopping area. The mall was closed in January 2003, and all but Penney's and its parking deck were demolished. The new "Main at North Hills" officially opened in November 2004.

Tenants of the mall in 1972 are listed below. Primary source is a 1971 telephone directory. Absent are all banks (which were in separate buildings), the corner service station, and businesses at North Hills Plaza, located across the street:

  • Appliance Center of Raleigh
  • Barricini Candies
  • Bride’s World
  • Bryant's Florist & Gifts
  • Collier's Hobby Shop
  • Emporium, The - Gift shop
  • F.P. Buchanan Music Company
  • Hickory Farms
  • Ivey's - Department store
  • JC Penney - Department store
  • Jack & Jill - Children's clothing
  • Jolly's Jewelers & Silversmiths
  • Junior Shoe World
  • K&W Cafeteria
  • Little Art Gallery
  • MJ's Casual Colony - Fashions
  • McLeod Watson & Lanier - Clothing
  • Merle Norman - Cosmetics
  • Mouse and Mushroom, The - Arts and crafts
  • Newsstand
  • North Hills Barber Shop
  • North Hills Book & Stationery
  • North Hills Library
  • North Hills Opticians
  • North Hills Pharmacy
  • North Hills TV & Appliance
  • Nowell's - Clothing
  • Olan Mills - Photographer
  • Patterson Travel Service
  • Phillips Hair Styling
  • Piedmont Fabrics
  • Raleigh Paint & Wallpaper Co
  • Record Bar
  • Ronson's Limited - Women's apparel
  • Sav-A-Mint Party Shoppe
  • Scott's Chuckwagon - Restaurant
  • Suzy's Boutique
  • Wax & Wicker Works
  • Woolworth
  • World Bazaar - Gift shop
  • Zale's Jewelers

Courtesy North Hills Mill

Durwood Barbour Collection of North Carolina Postcards (P077), North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives, Wilson Library, UNC-Chapel Hill

Sources

Raleigh Times:

  • Man shoots 10 at North Hills mall, then kills himself; three others dead - May 29, 1972
  • Jordan inside during shooting - ibid
  • Gunman seemed to pick his victims at random - ibid
  • 'He would fire, then duck down' - ibid
  • Motive may remain lost - May 30, 1972
  • Profiles: three paths to death - ibid
  • Teenager saw McLeod bleed to death - ibid
  • Hospitals tense, hushed after tragedy - ibid
  • Politicking ends in hospital - ibid
  • Psychiatrists speculate about trigger event - ibid
  • Disbelief surrounds North Hills - ibid
  • Candidates shocked at killings - ibid
  • McLeod's mother: 'I didn't believe he was that sick' - ibid
  • Fatal weapon an effective model - ibid
  • SBI assigns security to candidates - ibid
  • Mall shooting case ends without motive - May 31, 1972
  • Social worker saw trouble - ibid
  • Classmates remember McLeod as personable but withdrawn - ibid
  • 'Nice guy' can buy rifle; pistol is harder to obtain - ibid
  • Fire Calls - ibid
  • Prison psychologists differed on McLeod - June 1, 1972
  • Wake examiner finds no tumor - ibid
  • Victim remains critical - ibid
  • McLeod rites: 'We may not be given the answer' - June 2, 1972
  • Victims remain in hospital - ibid
  • Fifth shooting victim dies - June 3, 1972
  • Shooting motive remains a puzzle - June 6, 1972
  • Hayden keeps lucky, unlucky souvenirs - June 8, 1972
     
  • Raleigh Times - Man shoots into terminal; suspect held - June 24, 1972

News & Observer:

  • Sniper Kills 3 Near North Hills Mall - Wounds 8 Others and Takes Own Life - May 30, 1972
  • 'He Was Shooting Anybody' - ibid
  • No Clues to Motive - ibid
  • Jordan Only Yards Away - ibid
  • North Hills' Chaplain Comforted the Stricken - ibid
  • Gun Bought Monday - ibid
  • Horror Lingers at Scene - ibid
  • Similarities in Shooting - ibid
  • Police Seek Motive for Shootings - May 31, 1972
  • Wounded Victim Sees Shooter Wheeled Past - ibid
  • Sniper Victim Critical - ibid
  • Shopping, Lunch, Then Death - ibid
  • McLeod Said Prejudiced - June 1, 1972
  • Police Ends Probe Into Shooting - ibid
  • Victim's Condition 'Critical' - ibid
  • McLeod Was Tested in Prison - June 2, 1972
  • Fifth Shooting Victim is Dead - June 4, 1972
  • The 'Why' Still Lingers - June 4, 1972
     
  • News & Observer - Man Fires Gun at Bus Station - June 24, 1972
  • News & Observer - Faith in Focus: WakeMed celebrates 40 years of spiritual care - November 11, 2015

Other newspaper articles:

  • Wilmington Morning Star - Four die in Raleigh shootout - May 30, 1972
  • Wilmington Morning Star - Jordan's aide leaves hospital - June 9, 1972

Others sources:


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