A North Carolina man has been charged with first-degree murder after shooting and killing a man standing outside his home early Sunday morning.
Chad Cameron Copley, 39, of Raleigh, North Carolina, fired a shotgun from his garage into the street, killing a 20-year-old black man named Kouren-Rodney Bernard Thomas. Copley told officials he was firing a “warning shot” and did not intend to hit anyone.
The incident occurred around 1:00 a.m. on Sunday. In 911 calls released by local police, a man calling from Copley’s address tells a dispatcher that “we got a bunch of hoodlums out here racing… I am locked and loaded and I am going outside to secure my neighborhood.”
“You need to send PD as quickly as possible,” the caller—presumably Copley—continues. “I am going to secure my neighborhood. I am on the neighborhood watch. I am going to have my neighbors with me.”
A female calls from Copley’s address approximately seven minutes later. When the dispatcher asks what happened she says, “I don’t know. I’m upstairs with our children.”
Copley takes the phone from the female and tells the dispatcher, “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. And, uh, we got somebody that got hit. 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.”
No one else has been charged, and it isn’t clear whether any of Copley’s neighbors were in fact with him. The News & Observer also reported that Copley’s neighborhood did not have a neighborhood watch program, which would have been affiliated with the local police department.
But a local ABC affiliate reported that Jalen Lewis was hosting a party the night of the incident and that Thomas was one of the 50 guests in attendance. Police have yet to confirm whether these individuals were racing or had firearms.
Lewis, however, told reporters that no one was causing trouble at his party. “[Thomas’s] body was right in front of the mailbox,” Lewis said, pointing toward Copley’s mailbox. “I don’t know how he was a threat from the garage.”
“That kinda struck a nerve when I heard that one,” Lewis continued. “Just kinda – I don’t know, it sounds borderline hate crime. It’s just a bad situation overall. Let’s just hope justice gets served and they get all the details so they know how to handle it.”
Copley’s next court appearance is Aug. 29.