Raleigh man accused of murder says he was protecting his home

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Chad Copley, 39, appeared in court Monday (WTVD)

A Raleigh homeowner who says he was trying to protect his family when he allegedly shot and killed a man outside his home is in jail, charged with murder.

Raleigh police said Chad Copley, 39, of Singleleaf Lane fired a shotgun from inside his garage, toward the street around 1 a.m. Sunday morning, striking and killing 20-year-old Kouren-Rodney Thomas.

Kouren-Rodney Bernard Thomas

At his first court appearance Monday, Copley appeared calm as he was ushered in wearing handcuffs and shackles. He winked at his wife, family, and supporters who were sitting on the second row, holding back tears.

Just as one witness called 911 after the shooting Sunday morning, another 911 call appeared to come in from Copley.

Caller: "We have a lot of people outside of our house yelling and shouting profanities. I yelled at them, 'please leave the premises.' They were showing a firearm, so I fired a warning shot and we got somebody that got hit."

911: "Somebody was shot?"

Caller: "I don't know if they're shot or not, ma'am. I fired my warning shot like I'm supposed to by law."

Jalen Lewis, a neighbor who lives two doors down from Copley had hosted a party that night where he said Thomas was one of about 50 guests. While he didn't know Thomas personally, he said he didn't see anyone carrying guns or causing problems outside on the street.

"The man'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."

Lewis' account of what happened varies greatly from what can be heard on another 911 call placed just minutes before the fatal shot was fired:

Caller: It's Singleleaf Lane. We've had a bunch of hoodlums out here racing. I am locked and loaded.

Caller: I'm gonna secure my neighborhood. I'm on Neighborhood Watch, I'm gonna have the neighbors with me. There's hoodlums out here racing up and down the street. It's one o'clock in the morning. They have firearms and we're gonna secure our neighborhood. If I were you, I'd send PD as quickly as possible.

Lewis said he was surprised when he heard parts of that 911 call in reports.

Police were called to a home on the 3500 block of Singleleaf Lane around 1 a.m. on Sunday, August 7, 2016.

"That kinda struck a nerve when I heard that one," he said. "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."

Other neighbors tell ABC11 they're shocked that something like this would happen where they live.

Records show within the last year, police have been called to Copley's home four times; three of those on the same day for fraud and a domestic incident, another time last year for a missing juvenile.

At Lewis' home where the party took place, officers responded to one call in March of a vandalism incident that police describe as a domestic dispute.

Lewis said in the seven years he's lived on Singleleaf Lane, he's never interacted with Copley.

"I have certain ones I'm friendlier with, but that neighbor I never really seen him or spoke with him."

We understand the suspect in this case is the son-in-law of reporter Greg Barnes. This was a shock to him and all of us at ABC11. We'll continue to give updates as we get them
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