A North Carolina man who said he was “on the neighborhood watch” fatally shot a 20-year-old Black man from inside his garage before telling 911 he was protecting his family from “hoodlums,” according to police.
via NY Daily News:
Kouren-Rodney Thomas, 20, was killed in Raleigh early Sunday by a shotgun blast outside a house party by a neighbor who told police he was “locked and loaded,” officials said.
Thomas’ mother, Simone Butler-Thomas, told the Daily News she left New York with her three boys in 2001 when Kouren-Rodney was a baby because she thought their Harlem neighborhood was too dangerous.
“I just wanted my children to have a better life and be safe,” said Butler-Thomas who was born and raised in New York. “They loved it. They were young at the time. We tried to come back to New York a couple of times, but they liked the South better — up until now. It was easy living, nice people. But not anymore.”
Police arrested Chad Copley, 39, and charged him with first-degree murder in a case with disturbing similarities to the 2012 shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.
Cops received 911 calls from Copley’s house before and after the shooting.
“We’ve got a bunch of hoodlums out here racing,” Copley said, according to a recording of the first emergency call. “I am locked and loaded. I’m going outside to secure my neighborhood.”
In the second call, Copley admitted he fired his weapon, but said he wasn’t sure if he had shot anyone. “Well, I don’t know if they were shot or not, Ma’am,” he told a dispatcher. “I fired my warning shot like I’m supposed to by law. They do have firearms, and I’m trying to protect myself and my family.”
The operator asked who had come to his house.
“Ma’am, I don’t know who they are,” the man said. “There’s frigging black males outside my frigging house with firearms. Please send PD.”
No weapons were found outside, police said. Cops said Copley fired the shot from inside his garage. Copley could face the death penalty if he is convicted.
David Walker, a friend who came to the party with Thomas, said the single bullet hit Thomas’ arm before lodging in his chest.
“I heard the shot, and I’m watching him run and saw him drop,” Walker told The News.
“It doesn’t make any sense. Who shoots a warning shot at a person?”
Butler-Thomas described her youngest son as a safety-conscious protector, who had white and black friends. He did not “hang in the street,” she said.
The mom said she has followed the Black Lives Matter movement and sympathized with the parents of Trayvon, who was gunned down in Sanford, Fla., by neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman after a 911 call to cops.
“We’re losing our boys,” said Butler-Thomas, who launched a GoFundMe pageto raise money for funeral expenses. “I’m not an activist or anything. I don’t watch the news because I’m tired of hearing about these boys getting killed.
“I hope at the end of all of this he didn’t die in vain. If my baby’s passing can change laws to stop innocent people being killed, then let it be so. I can’t bring him back. I would love to change places with him. I’m heartbroken. I feel like somebody just ripped my heart out.”
Relatives said the shooting victim was nicknamed “Safety 101” because of his cautious nature.
This really is another Trayvon Martin situation all over again.