CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Trystan Terrell pleaded guilty Thursday to murdering two people and injuring four others in a shooting at UNC Charlotte in April.
His guilty plea was part of an agreement that would give Terrell two consecutive life sentences without the possibility of parole. This is instead of the death penalty, which the judge said would be the max penalty for his charges.
The 22-year-old opened fire in a university building on April 30, killing 21-year-old Riley Howell and 19-year-old Ellis Reed Parlier, and injuring 20-year-old Rami Alramadhan, 20-year-old Sean Dehart, 23-year-old Emily Houpt, and 19-year-old Drew Pescaro.
Sources say Terrell went into an anthropology class armed with a pistol. According to sources, witnesses told investigators that Terrell started shouting and began shooting randomly - not at specific targets.
Reed Parlier’s mother spoke in court Thursday, saying the family will never forgive Terrell for killing their son.
“We will never forgive him for his actions," the mother said, "Our hearts have nothing but hatred for him.”
The father of Riley Howell’s girlfriend read a letter to the courtroom from his daughter, who had been dating Howell for five years at the time of the shooting.
“I’m not in the room with the defendant today because he is not worth my time, my energy or my thoughts. After today, I will never think of him again,” the letter read. “He will not be missed, he’s not worth that recognition. However, he will be forgotten.”
Drew Pescaro, one of the survivors of the tragic shooting, expressed displeasure with the decision and spoke out about it on Twitter.
UNC Charlotte Chancellor Philip L. Dubois released a statement on Twitter soon after the court hearing:
Students, faculty and staff were anxiously waiting to hear the outcome of Terrell’s case. Most seemed content with the sentencing.
“I’m glad he pled guilty. I’m glad he didn’t try the mental health thing. He knows what he did, and he knows it was wrong. So I’m glad he’s getting his life sentences,” sophomore Dawn Peaks said.
“I expected it to be that bad,” senior Jimieshah Bryan said. “To spend your life in prison, that’s a pretty harsh sentence. You’re not getting out. You’re not seeing daylight again.”
Some students say the sentence sends an important message to anyone else who considers an attack like this.
“Not so much of them making an example of him but just so he is kept accountable and people who might have the thought of coming to threaten campus can know that that’s not okay,” senior Lillian Chie said.
They say it’s one more step forward in putting the shooting behind them.
“We’ve moved on, but we didn’t forget,” Peaks said.
A grand jury previously indicted Terrell on two counts of first-degree murder, one count of discharging a firearm on educational property, one count of possession of a gun on educational property, four counts of attempted first-degree murder, and four counts of assault with a deadly weapon with the intent to kill inflicting serious injury, according to court officials.
According to UNC Charlotte officials, Terrell enrolled at UNC Charlotte in Fall of 2018 and withdrew on Feb. 14, 2019.
During his questioning at Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department headquarters, Terrell made a full confession to investigators, telling them he planned his attack and considered three locations but decided on UNCC, according to sources.
Sources say Terrell “researched" the Sandy Hook school shooting at length and had been planning some type of attack for months.