‘He’s a coward,’ says UNCC student after alleged gunman waives right to first appearance

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – It was a quiet courtroom Thursday afternoon as a court-appointed attorney for Trystan Terrell said his client, accused of opening fire on students on the University of North Carolina at Charlotte campus, waived his right to appear in court for first appearance.

“On suggestion of council someone may not chose to come here,” Mike Kabakoff, Terrell’s attorney clarified for the courtroom.

The courtroom was silent as he and the judge continued to discuss the charges against Terrell.

The 22-year-old faces two counts of murder, four counts of attempted murder, four counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, one count of possession of a firearm on a school campus and one count of discharging a firearm on school grounds.

The judge stated Terrell could be granted two attorneys, “if the state proceeds on this matter . . . and also some other special investigative materials and people.”

The court proceedings lasted for roughly six minutes. All the while, six students from UNC Charlotte sat in a row behind the defense attorney and starred straight.

These students had hoped to look the man in the eyes, who they believed caused terror on their campus.

“He’s a coward,” UNCC student Tristan Field told FOX8 afterwards. Field was inside the classroom where Terrell is said to have opened fire. “You only feel confident when you have a gun, but not when you’re on the other side of it."

Field was not able to attend the court appearance, but his fraternity brother was.

“He just sat there, and then the guy didn’t show up. He thought he was a coward too,” he said.

When asked about whether Tristan or his friends had known or seen Terrell inside their class before the shooting, Tristan said yes.

Terrell did attend the science class at the beginning of the semester. “My friends always noticed him by his afro,” he said.

But, a few days into the semester, Terrell stopped showing up to the class.

“We didn’t really think much of it,” Tristan said.

When asked if they noticed Terrell inside the classroom on the day of the shooting, he said no.

“He didn’t say anything. He just stood up and started shooting,” Tristan said.

Tristan said he heard about seven or eight shots ring out in the classroom, sending he and his classmates running for their lives.

“I didn’t see any expression on his face. I didn’t hear him say anything,” Tristan said, as he relived the chaos that ensued in the split-seconds following the first shots being fired. “We all just started running. . . we were tripping over chairs that had fallen in front of the door.”

For Tristan, he said he hoped Trystan gets the death penalty or life without parole.

Terrell’s next court hearing is scheduled for May 15, where a bond will be decided upon.

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