Randall Louis Vater of Knightdale had been out of prison for less than a month when police accused him over the weekend of firing a shot that pierced the wall of his hotel room and killed a boy in the room next door.
Wake County Acting District Attorney Ned Mangum described Vater, 42, as a “habitual felon” who has 28 previous convictions. But after Vater’s first court appearance Monday, Mangum declined to say why he was in the Comfort Suites hotel in East Raleigh on Friday night or disclose other circumstances surrounding the boy’s death.
“This is a heart-wrenching tragedy for the family,” Mangum said after the brief court hearing. “As a parent, it makes you want to go home and hug your kids a little tighter.”
Vater is accused of firing a single shot that killed 13-year-old Nathan Andrew Clark as he was lying in the room next door. Clark lived in Lewisville and was in town to play soccer.
Raleigh police charged Vater with involuntary manslaughter and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. A Wake County judge told Vater on Monday that he could face more than eight years in prison if convicted of both charges.
Vater has a lengthy criminal record in North Carolina that is littered with relatively minor offenses that stretch back to 1989, when he was convicted in Wake County of felony breaking and entering and larceny, state records show.
He also has convictions for assault, felony hit-and-run, felony marijuana possession and felony speeding to elude arrest, driving while impaired, communicating threats, carrying a concealed weapon and probation violations, state records show.
Vater’s most prominent and frequent convictions have been related to domestic violence. Along with an assault on a female conviction, state records show that Vater has been convicted of violating domestic violence protective orders nearly a half-dozen times.
He has undergone court-ordered substance abuse treatment, mental health assessments, mandatory drug testing and counseling in the past, state records show.
Vater was most recently released Oct. 25 after spending six months behind bars for violating a domestic violence protective order on Oct. 26, 2013, and on Dec. 28, 2013, according to the agency’s website.
Mangum noted that Vater is being held under a $1 million bail for the involuntary manslaughter and firearm charges, but would remain in jail in any event because of a parole violation that gives him no option of posting bail.
Raleigh attorney Cameron Lee appeared on behalf of Vater in court but declined to speak during the hearing.
Police and EMS were called to the Comfort Suites hotel on Corporation Parkway off New Bern Avenue about 11 p.m. Friday. The woman who called 911 said she had no idea what had happened.
“We were sitting here lying in bed and then I heard a noise,” said the caller, whose name was not released. “And I got up to check on him, and there’s just blood everywhere.”
Efforts to revive Clark were unsuccessful, and he was pronounced dead in the room.
Clark was in town to play in a tournament hosted by the Capital Area Soccer League and was a member of the NC Soccer Fusion in the Twin City Youth Soccer Association. He also was a Boy Scout with just a few more steps before he would have earned his Eagle rank.
A celebration of life service will be held Wednesday at Calvary Baptist Church in Winston-Salem. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Nathan Clark Memorial Scholarship Fund at Calvary Baptist Day School, 5000 Country Club Road, Winston-Salem, NC 27104 or to Twin City Youth Soccer Association, 428 Twins Way, Advance, NC 27006.