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Christiansburg Middle School 2006 yearbook photo of Neil MacInnis in sixth grade
Sunday, April 14, 2013
Friends and a family member offered thoughts and comments Saturday about the 18-year-old charged with the New River Valley Mall shooting in Christiansburg.
Neil MacInnis is charged with opening fire and wounding two women at the New River Community College satellite facility at the mall, where authorities say he was a student.
"Our hearts go out to the victims and their families for all they've gone through," said Stewart MacInnis, the uncle of the Christiansburg 18-year-old. "It's a horrific event. Our family is devastated by this turn of events."
Stewart MacInnis, who is a spokesman for Virginia Military Institute, said his family is just waiting to see what the next steps are.
"We're hurting for my nephew. We're working through this, too," he said.
According to online Virginia jail records, MacInnis remained at the Montgomery County Jail on Saturday.
MacInnis worked for one summer in Virginia Tech's admissions office, where his mother, Kim MacInnis is an events coordinator, university spokesman Larry Hincker said.
Neil MacInnis' father, Brian MacInnis, is a Tech employee working in assistive technologies, according to the university directory.
According to Neil MacInnis' online profiles on his NRCC portfolio and at LinkedIn, he worked at Christiansburg's Old Navy store. His resume, posted on the portfolio page, said he spent the summer of 2012 working in the admissions office.
A manager at Old Navy on Saturday declined to comment on MacInnis.
Several former elementary, middle and high school classmates in Christiansburg said MacInnis was a class clown type, who loved to pull pranks, while never showing much emotion. He graduated high school a year early, they said. Several of the classmates said their hearts go out to the MacInnis family.
Two classmates recalled a scene from an eighth-grade classroom. They said MacInnis printed an enormous picture of himself, half-grinning with his hands in a finger gun position. Several in the class thought it was funny, and MacInnis hung it in a visible spot before it was taken down, the classmates said.
An online user identifying himself as Neil MacInnis may have detailed plans about Friday's shooting on an online message board moments before the incident occurred.
Crews were called to the mall minutes after the user posted a message on the Internet board 4chan.org implying that he was about to fire a shotgun inside the mall. The user posted a picture of the New River Valley Mall entrance near New River Community College on the board at 1:52 p.m., saying, "It's time," along with a link to the local police scanner feed.
Police received a call at 1:55 p.m. in regard to shots fired in the NRCC branch near the food court of the mall. In a Friday evening news conference, Christiansburg police Chief Mark Sisson said two women were shot before the suspect was subdued at 2 p.m. by an off-duty security guard and Christiansburg police officers. The two wounded were rushed to local hospitals while MacInnis was taken into custody.
Sisson said there are no other suspects at this time.
A user who saw the message board post sent The Roanoke Times a tip about the thread after the shooting. The post said MacInnis attends NRCC before claiming he was going to give the board members the details. He wrote "Stevens 320 shotgun. Buck shots and slugs."
The Stevens 320 gun line includes a variety of models, but all are 12-gauge, pump-action shotguns, according to Americanrifleman.org.
He said in the post he had used a shotgun only a few times, and he said it was with the Christiansburg Police Department. The department holds occasional citizens police academy courses. The 12-week program includes a session that allows people to practice shooting firearms under police supervision. MacInnis attended one of the courses in 2012, Sisson said during the news conference.
In the post, the user included a cryptic sentence about his possible motive.
"Anyways this is not a highscores game but actually a lesson (that's why I'm at school)," the post said.
Staff writers Tonia Moxley and Melissa Powell contributed to this story.
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