Nebo, North Carolina – When a neighbor opened her door to a frantic 21-year-old Gina Edwards (above) Friday morning, she was not thinking “gunshot”. But that’s what had happened. Gina stumbled into the neighbor’s living room holding her left arm. “I’ve been shot. Everyone in my house has been shot, and he’s trying to shoot me,” she said.
Sure enough, police arrived to find Stephen Monroe Buckner, 51, standing in the garage at 6905 Highway 70 East. He was donning Kevlar and armed with a handgun. Buckner walked out of his garage firing at deputies, and got at least four shots off before he was injured by return fire. Buckner was taken to an Asheville hospital to be treated for his injuries. Inside the house, two women and a young girl were not so lucky.
Gina Edwards told police that the three murder victims were her aunt, who was Buckner’s girlfriend; the girlfriend’s daughter and Buckner’s own daughter. I’ve found Gina’s Myspace, and I believe that the victim’s names are Vickie L., Chelsea G. and Rebecca B. One of the girls may be as young as 14.
* Update, 1.19.08, 5:25 PM: The victims have been identified as Vickie L. Lowery, 42; her daughter, Chelsea Nichole Gregory, 14; and Rebecca Rose Buckner, 25.
Buckner had recently left (or been fired from) his job with the State Alcohol and Drug Treatment Center in Black Mountain. He’d been a prison guard for nearly a decade and may have also spent time as a reserve deputy sheriff. His work history is public service dates to 1988. Not that any of that makes him a great guy, but it does make more people say “Wow, didn’t see that coming.”
Neighbors, on the other hand, say that Buckner was easy to annoy and liked to brandish weapons when asking neighbors who cut his phone line or what was up with their trimming the rose bushes. “He has just been weird the whole time we’ve lived here,” said one neighbor. “I just try to stay away from him”. And commenters at North Carolina news outlets say that Buckner has a long history of being fired for his explosive temper and erratic behavior.
Motive right now is still sketchy. Police say it appears that perhaps Vickie Lowery was planning to move out of the home, which might have triggered a rage attack. Or maybe Buckner’s just an abusive asshole with a gun. Whatever happened, I really hope his morphine pump mysteriously runs out of pain medication for the duration of his hospital stay. Buckner has at least three bullet wounds, but is listed in fair condition at Mission Hospitals in Asheville.
Stephen Buckner is being charged with three counts of murder, one count of attempted murder, and six counts of assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill. Gina Edwards is reportedly recovering at a family member’s home and is expected to be fine physically. Emotionally will be another story, I have no doubt.Â I’m still working to verify pictures of the other three victims, but will post them when I have them.
I’ll edit as more information becomes available.