A 13-year-old soccer player from Lewisville died late Friday after he was hit by a bullet that passed through the wall of a hotel room in Raleigh.
Nathan Andrew Clark was a member of the U14 Fusion Elite team, a select traveling soccer team, and was in Raleigh for a CASL Shootout tournament, a soccer official said. Nathan was an eighth-grader at the Upper School at Calvary Baptist Day School in Winston-Salem.
Police charged Randall Louis Vater, 42, of Knightdale with involuntary manslaughter and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
Nathan and Vater were in separate rooms at the Comfort Suites at 1309 Corporation Parkway in Raleigh, police said. The two did not know each other.
Nathan was dead when police arrived at the hotel around 11 p.m.
Officers released no details about how or why the gun went off.
Jim Sughrue, a spokesman for the Raleigh Police Department, said that detectives are continuing work on the case but he did not expect the release of any other information in the near future.
According to records from the N.C. Department of Public Safety, Vater was convicted on March 31 of violating a protective order. His projected release date was Oct. 25. He had been convicted Feb. 4, 2011 for drug possession and speeding to elude arrest,.
Scott Wollaston, the executive director of Twin City Youth Soccer Association, has known Nathan since he was 7 years old.
“I’ve coached him and just been around him and his family for the last six or seven years,” Wollaston said in a phone interview Saturday.
He said it’s hard for him to believe what happened.
“It’s surreal,” Wollaston said. “I feel like I’m in a warp zone right now. It’s like I’m going to wake up.”
He said that his thoughts are with Nathan’s parents, especially his mother.
“He’s an only child,” Wollaston said. “He’s her world.”
Wollaston described Nathan as a “great kid” who was respectful and friendly to people.
“He was a fantastic soccer player,” he said. “He was very competitive. He always wanted to win and (was) hard-working.”
Wollaston announced the death in an email to soccer parents and supporters.
“We are heartbroken for the Clark family, as well as his friends, teammates and other family members,” Wollaston wrote. He asked that soccer supporters keep the Clark family in their thoughts and prayers.
At a soccer tournament in Charlotte Saturday, some of the teams from the Twin City Youth Soccer Association wore athletic tape bearing the association’s logo around their socks in memory of Nathan.
Benjamin Kerth, the men’s head varsity soccer coach at Calvary Baptist Day School, was visiting friends in Maryland when he heard the news about the shooting.
He immediately drove home to be with his players.
After calling a meeting, Kerth was joined on the field Saturday night at Calvary by a group of more than 50 people including varsity and junior varsity players and some of their parents.
“We just talked about Nathan, shared memories and prayed for his family,” Kerth said.
He said that soccer was a big part of Nathan’s life.
“He loved soccer and he loved Jesus,” Kerth said.
At the meeting, “Everyone just kept talking about his energy and his smile,” Kerth said. “He just brought a special spark to our team.”
Although this was Nathan’s first year on the varsity team, he fit in with the older players, who “treated him like a little brother,” Kerth said.
“He started for me in eighth grade,” Kerth said. “It’s quite an accomplishment for a young kid to start on varsity.”
John Stubblefield, assistant principal for the Upper School at Calvary, said he is working with other administrators at the school to make sure grief counseling is available for students on Monday morning.
Calvary had a basketball tournament this weekend that started Friday night, he said. The tournament continued Saturday, but the Calvary teams did not play.
Stubblefield spoke highly of Nathan.
“At school, he was always doing the right thing,” Stubblefield said. “He never got in trouble. He loved life. He was usually smiling.”
When it came to soccer, Nathan loved the game, Stubblefield said.
“I’d see him walking down the hall with the ball in his hands,” he said.