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Accused UNCC shooter doesn't appear in first court hearing

By Nicholas Sakelaris
Accused UNCC shooter doesn't appear in first court hearing
Trystan Andrew Terrell faces two counts of murder in addition to four counts of attempted first-degree murder. Photo courtesy of the Mecklenburg County Sheriff's Office. 

May 2 (UPI) -- Trystan Andrew Terrell, the suspect in the deadly shooting at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, did not personally appear for his first scheduled court hearing Thursday.

Public defender Mike Kabakoff said defendants have a right to skip the hearing on the advice of legal counsel. Judge Ronald Chapman confirmed that he didn't have to be present.

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The former UNCC student has been charged with two counts of murder, four counts of attempted murder, four counts of assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill, possessing a firearm on educational property and discharging a firearm on educational property, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department said in a statement.

Police said he opened fire in a classroom, killing two students and injuring four others Tuesday. Police said one of the victims, 21-year-old Riley Howell, tackled the gunman, possibly sparing more lives.

RELATED Shooting at UNC campus leaves two dead, suspect in custody

Fellow student Ellis R. Parlier, 19, of Midland, N.C., also died in the shooting.

On Thursday, a caravan of police cars and motorcycles escorted Howell's body 150 miles to his hometown in Waynesville, N.C., where he will be buried. People stopped to pay respects as the solemn procession passed through several towns. He's being hailed as a hero.

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Renee Gidcumb said she remembers teaching Howell in first grade.

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"This hits us right at home," Gidcumb said. "It's so hard to believe that he sat in one of my chairs and walked our halls. I can still see his little face. It's how I've always remembered him."

Officers arrested Terrell, 22, after the shooting. He is being held without bail at Mecklenburg County Jail.

Sean DeHart, 20, of Apex, was treated and released Tuesday night. Three others remain hospitalized but University Chancellor Philip Dubois said they "are all doing OK."

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Police Chief Kerr Putney said there were no accomplices in the shooting.

"There is absolutely no one else we're looking at," Putney said.

UNCC canceled classes through Sunday and non-essential school employees stayed at home Wednesday, despite having final exams next week.

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