A White North Carolina man faces murder charges for fatally shooting a Black man after apparently calling the police about a group of “hoodlums.”
The Associated Press (AP) cited a Raleigh Police Department press release yesterday (August 8) that said Chad Cameron Copley allegedly fired a shotgun from inside his Raleigh home’s garage early Sunday morning (August 7), striking Kouren-Rodney Bernard Thomas, 20. Thomas, identified by a department spokesperson as Black, was pronounced dead at a local hospital.
The AP also transcribed the audio of two 911 calls released by police, the second of which was identified as coming from Copely’s address. It broke down the calls as follows:
Police released an audio recording of a 911 call that came in shortly before 1 a.m. Sunday in which a male caller tells a dispatcher that he’s “locked and loaded” and preparing to go outside. Saying there are people outside with guns, he tells the dispatcher he is on neighborhood watch and asks them to send police.
“We’ve got a bunch of hoodlums out here racing,” he says. “I am locked and loaded. I’m going outside to secure my neighborhood.”
The dispatcher then attempts to get a numeric address for the caller, but he declines and hangs up.
About seven minutes later, an upset female caller gives the dispatcher an address that authorities would later identify as Copley’s house. The dispatcher asks what happened.
“I don’t know. I’m upstairs with our children,” the female caller says.
She then gives the phone to what sounds like the same male caller from earlier.
“We have a lot of people outside of our house yelling and shouting profanity. I yelled at them ‘please leave the premises.’ They were showing firearms so I fired a warning shot,” he says. “And, uh, we got somebody that got hit.”
After the dispatcher asks if someone was shot, the male caller responds: “I don’t know if they’re shot or not. 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.”
After the dispatcher asks who was outside, the caller says: “There’s Black males outside my freaking house with firearms.”
Police refused to name the caller per state law, but the time and address identification suggest that Copley was the man on the line. According to jail records obtained by the AP, Copley faces murder charges and was denied bail at a hearing yesterday.
David Walker, a friend of Thomas’, told The News & Observer that he and Thomas were in the neighborhood for a party two doors down from Copley’s house. They left before entering the party, and Walker said that Thomas started running after seeing what he thought were police lights because “he had a little weed on him.”
“I yelled at him, ‘We good now, stop running,’” said Walker. “He turned his head back to me, and that’s when a shot went off. We didn’t know that it came from the house. We were all looking around like, who got a gun?” Walker added that the party was quiet when he and Thomas arrived.
Thomas’ mother, Simone Butler-Thomas, told The News & Observer that she waited at the hospital for three hours before a hospital official told her he was dead on arrival. “I was led to believe that he was alive the whole time,” she said. “We haven’t seen him yet.”