RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — One year after a gunman walked through Raleigh’s Hedingham neighborhood and killed five people, a survivor of that day is looking ahead.
“Even though I went through these circumstances, I’m not broken,” Lynn Gardner said.
It was on Oct. 13, 2022, that police say then-15-year-old Austin Thompson went on a rampage.
Police say he killed his brother, James Thompson, inside their home before walking through the neighborhood and shooting people at random.
In addition to the suspect’s brother, four others were killed: Nicole Connors, Raleigh Police Officer Gabriel Torres, Susan Karnatz and Mary Marshall.
Two others were shot that day and survived: Raleigh Police Officer Casey Clark and Gardner.
“I was struck in my arm, I was struck on the left side,” Gardner recalls. “In my face, he shot me several times in my torso and on my right thigh.”
Despite spending months in the hospital, hours in surgery and days since then healing, Gardner says she’s found ways to move on.
“I don’t look behind, I’m looking forward, I’m embracing my new beginnings,” she said.
Gardner said she doesn’t actually remember much from that day, and she doesn’t ask many questions about it.
“The only time, honestly, the only time I think about it is if someone brings it up, I don’t ponder on it,” she said.
Gardner says part of moving forward for her has been finding her own peace and forgiveness.
“When I forgave Austin, I forgave Austin,” she said. “Because I wanted to protect my heart.”
For her, it extends beyond forgiveness.
“When I say I love Austin, I love Austin, even though he did a horrendous thing to me,” Gardner said of the suspect.
With one year behind her since that day, Gardner says all she’s thinking about are the decades to come celebrating life and healing.
“I don’t know what the future holds, I don’t know what’s in store for me, but I’m going to do the best I can with what I have,” she said.