Shooting Justified? N.C. Man’s ‘Warning Shot’ at ‘Hoodlums’ Turns Fatal, Charged with Murder

Chad Cameron Copley, 39, is led out of a courtroom at the Wake County Judicial Center in Raleigh, N.C., Monday, Aug. 8, 2016. Copley, who apparently called police to complain about "hoodlums" near his house, was charged with murder after he shot and killed a black man outside, authorities said. (Chuck Liddy/The News & Observer via AP)

Chad Cameron Copley, 39. (Photo: Chuck Liddy/The News & Observer via AP)

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.

About the author: Jordan Michaels has been reviewing firearm-related products for over two years and enjoying them for much longer. With family in Canada, he’s seen first hand how quickly the right to self-defense can be stripped from law-abiding citizens. He escaped that statist paradise at a young age, married a sixth-generation Texan, and currently lives in Waco.

{ 42 comments… add one }
  • Glenn61 August 14, 2016, 8:19 am

    I guess this idiot never herd about George Zimmerman,,, this warning shot that was just an accident ploy is not going to play in court now. Best thing he can do now is just shut-up.

    • ejharb September 19, 2016, 3:51 pm

      Zimm although he is a dirt bag in his own right was declared not guilty for a reason.”sweet Lil treyvon”was trying to cave Zimms head in by dribbling it on concrete.Zimm is lucky treyvon didn’t prevail. The dirt bag in this article is clearly wrong and will go up the river for a long time as he should

      Big diffrrence!

      • Acctmp July 14, 2017, 7:38 am

        Treyvon had a right to defend himself from someone who was obviously stalking him. A person who was armed, probably obviously, as he searched for Treyvon. If the kid wss slamming the jerks head, it was probably to stop his attempts to reach the pistol. Ironically, Treyvon probably died thinking he wss stopping an armed perp. Treyvon had a right to stand his ground…

  • Nick August 13, 2016, 7:03 pm

    This is the kind of crap that 1) makes the level-headed and responsible, forward-thinking firearm owners look real, real bad (especially since all the ‘hate crime’ goes down) and 2) makes politicians and lawmakers at large sit in dark rooms with locked doors and devise ways to disarm the American people. For gosh sakes. This guy committed murder, at the very least manslaughter. No excuse for what he did. Warning shots are fired up, not horizontally, and they are illegal pretty much everywhere anyways. We’ll see what comes of it, but for now he’s in very hot water and has some explanin’ to do. Hope he buys a good lawyer.

  • Mahatma Muhjesbude August 12, 2016, 4:10 pm

    The shooter is lucky he did this in Texas. Texas is not just another state, it’s another alien planet. I had some extended ‘police investigations going on there some years ago and I would be willing to bet if this shooter was, indeed, a marine combat Vet especially with potentially diagnosable PTSD criteria, and it was after dark, and the police find even ‘reasonable suspicion’ that some individuals, or even one, ‘brandished’ a weapon, That the victim had a prior criminal record or was gang related like about half the black males his age group were/are in a major city etc. etc. the verdict might easily turn out to be NOT what everyone’s expecting?

    • Riregrist August 13, 2016, 1:42 pm

      You have about 20 “ifs” in your statement. With that many “ifs” you could justify just about anything.

  • Boz August 12, 2016, 1:06 pm

    So-called “warning” shots are illegal in most states and they are stupid. If you feel threatened enough to shoot, then shoot. Otherwise, do not.

    • Rouge1 August 13, 2016, 2:13 pm

      Not according to vice president Joe Biden.

  • Bob August 12, 2016, 12:56 pm

    Idiots with guns, make the rest of us look real bad.

  • SuperG August 12, 2016, 12:46 pm

    He wasn’t under attack in his home. He left a defensible position. He fired into the crowd and not up in the air and killed someone. Intent will determine guilt, but he’d better hope for involuntary manslaughter, he’s still looking at years in prison regardless.

    • Steve August 12, 2016, 3:56 pm

      Intent does NOT determine guilt. That only serves to mete out the severity of the punishment, not whether or not a crime occurred. Intent can be an aggravating factor, taking a manslaughter charge to murder, but either way someone was shot and died. See what I mean?

  • Renegade August 12, 2016, 11:16 am

    “I fired my warning shot like I’m supposed to by law”
    Certainly don’t remember hearing that law when I took my NC CCW class.

  • T August 12, 2016, 11:01 am

    Whoa, wait A cotton pickin minute, isn’t this exactly what the Vice President of the United States of America Joe Biden, in detail, tell Americans that is what we needed to do instead of having a pistol or rifle in our homes to shoot the intruders while they were in our homes?….This man should be given a medal.

    • Carl D. August 12, 2016, 8:47 pm

      I could go tell you to go jump off the tallest build in your area. Would you do it? If your are the responsible gun owner that I think your are you would not jump off that building. It has been stated that in no CPL/CCW class that an instructor has told a student to take a WARNING SHOT. If I had to make a guess; I would guess that this guy was upset with Who is neighor’s where.

  • John S August 12, 2016, 8:40 am

    Anybody who has ever seen an old time spaghetti western knows that you fire a “warning shot” up into the air, NOT flat down into the middle of a crowd. This shooter is an IDIOT, and probably a racist too. Even if he’s not convicted for this incident, he should never be allowed to be outside his house without adult supervision.

    • Whiskey For My Men Beer For My Horses August 12, 2016, 10:15 am

      You sound like an emotional liberal democrat BLM member when you called the shooter racist without any intelligent reasons.

      • Harley1960 August 12, 2016, 11:32 am

        There are three-3 races: Caucasion,
        Mongoloid, and Negroid, that’s it folks. Sorry Hispanics you are Caucasion. Sorry so called “Native Americans” you are Mongoloid. The brasion truth and reality is there are two types of Negroids and I’ll leave it there, read a book instead of a hitlist.
        Why isn’t it a hate crime when a Negroid American shoots a Caucasion American? Or a Negroid American kills, robs, or rapes and batters a Mongoloid American? Do Mongoloids, and Caucasions not have rights to: be secure; privacy; own a gun, and speak freely? If they do, why isn’t it a hate crime when these freedoms are taken by someone of another group? This man might be an idiot, a drunk, and a man I don’t want speaking for me, but he is a United States Marine. He’s good enough to fight and die for our rights, but not good enough to have any himself? He might be a hockey, cracker, M-Fer to you, but just let him say nigger and the entire country decends on him. You might say his ride is free because he is in the military (disgusting as that might be to real Americans), what about the ride of the generational SSBI M-Fers? Why is anybody who differs with your president on health care, fire arms, or redistribution a racist instead of a revolutionary one who bleeds for freedom? What is a racist, and who hands out the sentence and determines the length? We’re all racists, even you when you we or all hand out the title. The Lord God will determine this man’s eternal fate. Only the courts of a people who duley elect their executives, who in turn appoint our natural judges who honorably determine our natural fate, will decide after deliberation this man’s natural consequences for his crimes if any. Amen

        • steve August 12, 2016, 1:07 pm

          your “3 races” comment is extremely outdated and just wrong, despite what you may have learned in a textbook.
          also, it IS a hate crime if it is against Caucasian or Asian victims. just look up “FBI hate crime statistics” and you will see for yourself.

        • Steve August 12, 2016, 4:06 pm

          Seems like you’re a little light on actual anthropological knowledge. Remember the American Indian? Those aren’t “Negroid”. Also, “mongoloid” is a little out of date, and doesn’t describe the ethnic phenotype properly.
          I am also real frustrated at the very existence of a “hate crime”. A crime is a crime. If someone uses racial language before shooting them, they need to be punished for the shooting. The words are almost entirely irrelevant unless they encompass a threat. We have all these laws already, adding “hate crimes” was simply a way to placate idiots and morons.
          The sad fact is that while the progressive folks talk all day about defending rights and liberty and this and that, they are anything but patriotic. As long as you agree with them, you’re ok. If you diverge even slightly from their script, talking points, beliefs, or all that crap, then you’re a problem that has to be dealt with. The preach tolerance and practice intolerance. They say they are anti-bigotry, yet attack conservative values a thousand ways to Sunday.
          The very real thing that we seem to be heading for is some sort of uprising or conflict that will make the civil war pale in comparison. We didn’t fight that war over slavery. We fought that war over a State’s right to secede from the Union. Slavery was tacked on ~ late 1863 when Lincoln saw the Union was getting their butts handed to them on the battlefield. He spoke passionately and powerfully on the subject of slavery and made that the call to action for the North. (I am anti-slavery just so that is clear) Ever since then, we have had this seething anger and hatred with regards to race relations, and it’s never been dealt with. This EEOC crap, that is racism, in reverse. That’s just as wrong as the racism they say they want to eradicate. You can’t correct a problem by using the same issue. Until people in this country are ready to take a good hard look at the real issues, nothing will improve, I promise that.

        • Carl D. August 12, 2016, 9:03 pm

          Speak for yourself. I am not a racist but, I just might be a bigot or prejudice. You may want to go back to the dictionary and look of thos words again to get the proper meaning and use. Your attempt at trying to spin this into something other than a person being unresponsible with his weapon is just not going to work.

    • Justin P August 12, 2016, 11:38 am

      Up in the air? Are you completely insane? You do know a bullet fired in the air will come down somewhere and almost as fast as when it left the barrel. A warning shot is a terrible idea. You should only fire a firearm when you intend to hit something. A warning shot is stupid and dangerous. If someone does not get the hint when a weapon is presented the situation is already deadly. That being said this man should have never fired his weapon as a warning, but the fact the man shot was next to the shooter’s mailbox (the neighbor admitted that in his quote) means he could have been on the shooter’s property and not on the man hosting the party’s property which could put him in the wrong.

      • perlcat August 12, 2016, 12:13 pm

        It’s a shotgun; firing it up in the air isn’t going to have many adverse consequences after 100 yards or so. It’d just be a rain of pellets. This article is more of a sad reminder of what happens when a dumbass meets a dumbass comin’ through the rye.

  • oz zy August 12, 2016, 8:31 am

    i;m sure, like hillary, there was no intent.
    lets see how that goes.

  • Infidel7.62 August 12, 2016, 7:50 am

    He should subpoena Biden as a defense witness. The vice President told the nation if you are threatened you need to get a shotgun and fire a warning shot.

  • gotham1883 August 12, 2016, 7:10 am

    Just a nice party next door with 50 “teenagers”. What could go wrong?

  • Paul Franklin August 12, 2016, 5:55 am

    A warning shot ? Really ? More fodder for the anti-gun folks to use towards their agenda to disarm everyone . He should have let the LEO’s handle it . Folks have forgotten that where their rights end someone else’s begins .

    • Marcelino August 12, 2016, 8:56 am

      That’s what happens when you avoid gun education, training or reading about legalities. Someone mention the proper steps to these situations; CALL THE LAW! Sticks and stone may break my bones but names will never hurt me.

  • Gary August 12, 2016, 5:04 am

    I still don’t understand the concept of “Hate Crime”? I think it is stupid and in its self racist!
    I am pretty sure who ever gets shot, on purpose, was at the time far from the shooters best pal. But what does hate have to do with it?
    I didn’t read anything at all about the shooters at the black lives matter protest that shot the White Cops being a HATE crime! Maybe I just missed it..?? But as they shot those cops simply because they were white, and what appears to be totally random, would seem to me to FIT the definition of Hate Crime if anything ever did!

    • Mo August 12, 2016, 8:09 am

      Spot on my friend

    • Curly August 12, 2016, 1:04 pm

      It is only hate crime when it is white on any group with minority status, no matter what. The same with hate speech. This guy was stupid and killed a man and right away his is a racist. Never hear this BS when it is black on white no matter how terrible the crime is.

  • mpr August 11, 2016, 10:33 am

    This sounds like a mess. The laws in Texas are clear.. If it is after dark, and anyone is on your property, then you have that right to use any force ….. but they better be found on your property, not in the street… a good gun owner does not fire a warning shot. we aim carefully.

    • Yeah August 12, 2016, 4:59 am

      Clearly you haven’t ever read the law in Texas because it doesn’t say anything of the sort. People like you are responsible for idiots like the man in this article. You’re actually one of them. No wonder people want guns taken away from everyone. Idiots like you are the reason. You don’t even know what the law is. You haven’t read it. But you are here spreading false information that could get someone put in prison for life.

      • William Martin August 12, 2016, 8:34 am

        Here is the Texas law regarding the use of force to protect one’s property:
        DEADLY FORCE TO PROTECT PROPERTY. A person is justified in using deadly force against another to protect land or tangible, movable property:

        (1) if he would be justified in using force against the other under Section 9.41; and

        (2) when and to the degree he reasonably believes the deadly force is immediately necessary:
        (A) to prevent the other’s imminent commission of
        arson, burglary, robbery, aggravated robbery, theft during the
        nighttime, or criminal mischief during the nighttime.

        NOW, WHO’S THE IDIOT???

        • mark August 12, 2016, 11:45 am

          It appears to me that based upon your assessment of Texas law, you are within your rights to shoot anyone just lingering around your property. The law indicates to me that you may use such force if another is intending to commit a felony. Not just simply someone making noise or standing at the edge of said property. With that being said, I hope you have deep pockets if in the event you practice that right, because in civil/criminal court you will spend thousands of dollars to disprove you were not the aggressor. So, unless someone is trying to torch your house, rape your women, or kill you directly, it would be in good practice to call the cops.

        • Kenny Smith August 12, 2016, 12:27 pm

          Thank You William, well said !!!!!!!!!

        • Brian August 13, 2016, 12:41 am

          Uh you are william

      • Fred Ziffle August 12, 2016, 8:55 am

        Golden-ish Rule #7
        If you’re going to bust someone out for being stupid and wrong, first make sure you know what you’re talking about. Lest ye be enjoying a dirty crow sandwich.

        • Ledge August 12, 2016, 11:25 am

          ‘mpr’ states that in Texas you can use any force if a person is on your property and it’s dark out. ‘Yeah’ disagrees and ‘William Martin’ quotes the law that says in addition to being on property and it being night the person must also be committing some sort of crime. There’s a difference here, mpr and William Martin didn’t say the same thing. ‘Yeah’ is correct in telling ‘mpr’ that he’s wrong and Texas doesn’t let you shoot anyone who steps off the sidewalk onto your front lawn when it’s dark out.

  • DRAINO August 11, 2016, 7:28 am

    Please, let all the facts come out before anyone starts in on this one. Resist the urge!! Be better than the media. We have a justice system for a reason. And there’s too many holes in this story to start crucifying or proclaiming righteous shooting.

    • Dr. Strangelove August 12, 2016, 5:28 am

      Please. The man admitted to firing “a warning shot” into a crowd. You don’t need to consult with Captain Obvious to conclude that he acted recklessly at the very minimum.

      • Jenna airhart August 14, 2016, 4:21 am

        Yes, let jump to convictions just from reading an article on the interweb.

        • Tape August 28, 2016, 6:07 am

          Here’s a conclusion that I think can be safely drawn:

          This knucklehead deserves to be separated from society for no other reason than for firing the absolute worst “warning” shot ever. As in the definition of how not to fire a warning shot. Lucky for his family he screwed it up as bad as he did because if he had fired into the air he probably would have shot them hiding on the second floor.

          Also “pulling a Copely” will soon become synonymous with doing something so amazingly stupid that your gonna become an internet meme and then compounding your idiocy by admitting to it. I think I would have told 911 I capped him on purpose and become known as a racist. Less stigma attached, especially in NC.

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