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Police say mother & 2 children killed, 3 other children injured, suspect dead in Asheville

Two children killed in an Asheville shooting have been identified as 15-year-old Keithan Whitmire (left) and 13-year-old Harmony Smith (right). (Photos: Whitmire family and Facebook)

Asheville Police Chief Tammy Hooper provided some new details after a shooting in West Asheville that left four people dead, including two children, their mother and the gunman.

The children who were killed have been identified as 15-year-old Keithan Whitmire and 13-year-old Harmony Smith. Their mother, 32-year-old Erica Nichelle Smith, was also killed in the shooting.

Three other children were also injured in the shooting, at least one of them remains hospitalized at Mission Hospital.

Police Chief Tammy Hooper said they are still working on the details in this case but that it appears that Erica Smith and Maurice Laron Garner had an argument at Smith’s place of employment at Mission Hospital Wednesday before the shooting.

It is not clear how much time passed between them leaving Mission Hospital and arriving at the house, but police say the call came in to 911 at 10:31 p.m. to report the shooting. “The Asheville Police Department received a 911 call from a juvenile at 73 Hansel Avenue who reported that Maurice Garner had shot and killed his mother, Erica Smith, and had also shot other family members who were brothers and sisters of his and that he also was injured,” says Chief Hooper.

Hooper went on to say, “Erica Smith was located in the home, she was deceased upon our arrival. There were 6 remaining individuals who were injured, five of them were her children. Two were a 15-year-old male who had received gunshot wounds and later succumbed those injuries at the hospital. One was a 13-year-old female who also succumbed to her wounds on her way to the hospital. The three additional children were transported. One, a 12-year-old sustained a gunshot wound to the leg. He is currently listed in stable condition. And two additional victims, a 10-year-old and 8-year-old, sustained graze wounds and were treated for those injuries and are currently receiving services through the Mountain Children Advocacy Center.”

One of the victims was able to provide authorities with a description of Garner’s vehicle. That vehicle was located not far from the home, with Garner inside suffering from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. Garner was transported to Mission Hospital where he later died from his injuries.

Chief Hooper confirmed, Garner did not have a criminal history with the Asheville Police Department and that the department had not received prior calls regarding domestic violence between Garner and Smith.

However, News 13 found documentation Garner tried to file a domestic violence order against Smith on Monday -- two days before the shooting. In the document, Garner claimed Smith was "trying to set me up to be killed. Her and her family texting pictures of my driver license."

A judge did not grant the emergency order, saying Garner didn't prove his case. They were scheduled to go to court next Thursday.

The surviving children are receiving treatment from the Mountain Children Advocacy Center. Both Asheville City Schools and Buncombe County Schools were notified and are providing services for students.

Ashley-Michelle Thublin with Asheville City Schools the children were students in their school system. The school says the victims include two students from Isaac Dickson Elementary School, one student from Asheville Middle School, one student from Asheville High School and a former Asheville Middle School student.

"Three of the students are still in the hospital. However, an Asheville Middle School student and an Asheville High School student have passed away," says Thublin.

According to Thubin, two students from Isaac Dickson elementary and one former Asheville Middle School student are currently hospitalized. One Asheville Middle School student and one Asheville High School student have died.

Police are asking anyone with any additional information on the incident to please contact the Asheville Police Department at 828-252-1110 or Crime Stoppers at 828-255-5050.

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