North Carolina School Shooter From Arlington, Graduated From Mansfield High School

Suspected shooter's grandfather says his grandson was critical of American gun culture in the past

The grandfather of 22-year-old Trystan Andrew Terrell, the Arlington man accused of killing two people and wounding four others in a school shooting Tuesday, says he's "shocked" and has no idea what prompted his grandson to open fire on a classroom full of students at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte.

Paul Rold talked to NBC 5 Wednesday morning at his Arlington home but, on the advice of a lawyer, didn't want to go on camera. He said he had no idea what sparked the shooting and added that the family is "shocked."

Rold added he hasn't had a chance to talk with his grandson and only learned of the shooting after being contacted by a reporter with the Associated Press on Tuesday. He said Terrell is under observation in police custody and that the family has not been allowed to speak to him.

"You're describing someone foreign to me," Rold told the AP in a telephone interview Tuesday night. "This is not in his DNA."

Rold told NBC 5 Wednesday that his grandson, to his knowledge, didn't own a gun and wasn't interested in them. He said Terrell was critical of American gun culture in the past, saying it was too easy for people to get their hands on weapons. Rold said his grandson spoke of New Zealand and the crackdown there following a mass shooting earlier this year.

Rold said his grandson graduated from Mansfield High School and moved away about two years ago and that he had an interest in foreign languages. He said he'd helped him learn French and that he'd become fluent and later taught himself Portuguese.

When asked if his grandson had any history of mental illness, Rold declined to answer. He later told the AP that his grandson is on the autism spectrum but was "clever as can be."

UNC-Charlotte spokeswoman Buffy Stephens said Terrell had been enrolled at the school but withdrew during the current semester. Campus Police Chief Jeff Baker said he had not appeared on their radar as a potential threat.

"I just went into a classroom and shot the guys," Terrell told reporters Tuesday as officers led him in handcuffs into a law enforcement building.

Terrell was later booked into the Mecklenburg County jail on two counts of murder, four counts of attempted murder, possessing and firing a weapon on educational property and assault with a deadly weapon.

The motive for the shooting hasn't been made clear.

In a news release, UNC-Charlotte said all the victims were students, five from North Carolina and one international. Riley C. Howell, 21, of Waynesville, and Ellis R. Parlier, 19 of Midland, were killed in the attack. Those injured were Sean Dehart, 20, and Drew Pescaro, 19, both of Apex; Emily Houpt, 23, of Charlotte; and Rami Alramadhan, 20, of Saihat, Saudia Arabia.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Kerr Putney says one of the two people killed in the shooting saved lives by tackling the gunman.

Putney said 21-year-old Riley Howell "took the fight to the assailant" after determining he had no place to run or hide in his classroom.

Putney said that, without Howell's attack, capturing the shooter might have taken longer.

Putney said the fast action by university police also saved lives. The first officer in the classroom said he has been preparing for a horrible event like this for 20 years in his mind.

University Chancellor Phillip Dubois said in radio interviews Wednesday that three of the four wounded, previously described as having critical or life-threatening injuries, had undergone surgery.

NBC 5 's Scott Gordon and the Associated Press' Tom Foreman Jr and Sarah Blake Morgan contributed to this report.

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