ROANOKE, Va. — A college student played dead to escape a family shooting by his father, who killed the other son and their mother before setting their house on fire and taking his own life, investigators said Monday.
Authorities said the father, retired tire factory worker William Ronald Carter, shot his wife, Bonnie, 56, and their 29-year-old son, William Ronald Carter Jr. He later shot Timothy Carter, 22, in the back and then again after the son begged for mercy, but only wounded him, Henry County Sheriff’s Sgt. Curtis Spence said. Spence said the father killed himself before authorities arrived at the burning home early Sunday.
Timothy Carter remained in fair condition Monday at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, N.C., according to a hospital spokeswoman.
Spence said Timothy Carter told investigators his 56-year-old father called him at Radford University, about 90 miles away, and said his mother needed to speak to him. When he arrived home in the rural community of Axton, his father said his brother was sick and was downstairs in the basement of the brick ranch-style house.
As Timothy Carter walked downstairs his father shot him in the back, Spence said.
“Timothy turned and begged for his life,” Spence said, “and his father shot him again.”
Timothy Carter played dead, then escaped when his father went into another part of the house, possibly to set it on fire, Spence said.
The father’s motive has not been determined. “For him to lure his son home to his death, it appears that it was planned,” Spence said.