Kouren-Rodney Thomas, 20, had moved down to Raleigh, NC with his family to find somewhere safer for him to grow up than New York. Unfortunately, a neighborhood watchman who was “securing his neighborhood” fatally shot Thomas early Sunday morning. 

Chad Copley, the 39-year-old watchman, called police twice, once before and once after the shooting. In his initial call, he claimed that there were people racing up and down the street he lived on and he was “locked and loaded” as he prepared to approach “a bunch of hoodlums”, according to New York Daily News.

It was in his second call that he said, “Well, I don’t know if they were shot or not, Ma’am… 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.”

“Ma’am, I don’t know who they are,” he continued to tell the dispatcher. “There’s frigging black males outside my frigging house with firearms. Please send PD.”

Based on reports from The News and Observer, glass and blood were found where it appeared that the shot came from inside of a garage. Copley was charged with first-degree murder.

It’s interesting, when Copley originally called police and asked for police assistance, he took it upon himself to take his weapon and handle the situation on his own. But when he was afraid of “frigging black males,” he was willing to stay inside and let them come to do their jobs.

The kind of vigilante “justice” – or cold-blooded murder – that occurred is strikingly similar to the 2012 death of Trayvon Martin by the hands of another neighborhood watchmen who’s still allegedly bragging about what he did.

“I just wanted my children to have a better life and be safe,” said Simone Butler-Thomas, Kouren-Rodney’s mother. “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.”

“I hope at the end of all of this he didn’t die in vain,” she continued. “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.”

Many factors come into play in this tragic loss. The fear that many have placed on black youth, the accessibility to weapons and, most importantly, the loss of life that affects us all.

Butler-Thomas has started a GoFundMe campaign to pay for her son’s funeral expenses.

Photo Credit: GoFundMe