'It's terrible': Family wants answers after trooper kills 21-year-old during Siler City traffic stop

SILER CITY, N.C. (WTVD) -- The State Highway Patrol said one man is dead after a trooper fired his gun during a traffic stop in Siler City.

On Monday, at 4:37 p.m., SHP stopped a Ford pickup on Harmony Drive near Solo Drive. The stop was made because of a driver's seat belt violation.

During the stop, SHP said the suspect "presented a pistol" a trooper fired his gun, hitting 21-year-old Mark Anthony Diaz of Staley. He was taken to a hospital but was pronounced dead a short time later. A passenger ran from the scene but later returned during the investigation.

ABC11 spoke with Moises Diaz, who is the suspect's brother. He wants to know why his brother was killed.

"I do want some answers, because an officer is, even if they have a gun, they are meant to detain a person, not kill," Diaz said.

One eyewitness who saw what happened said the gun belonged to the passenger, who left it in the car when he fled from the stop.

"The dude evidently had jumped out and ran," said Geoffery Evans. "And Mark tell them, he got a gun in the truck. Police tell him put his hands out the window, back up slow, woot woot, He did everything they said, but he had his little bag on him, and as soon as he went to switch the bag like, to a certain position, the police say he got a gun on him and we're like, no he don't, but they shot him."

The trooper, Rodney N. Cook was not hurt during the traffic stop. He will be placed on administrative leave pending an internal investigation which is agency protocol.

The State Bureau of Investigation is conducting a separate investigation into the deadly shooting.

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During the stop SHP said the suspect showed a pistol and a trooper fired his gun, hitting 21-year-old Mark Anthony Diaz of Staley, N.C.

Mark Diaz was often seen in the neighborhood, which residents said is a tight-knit community, They have barbecues and children are often seen playing outside. Diaz was never seen with a gun, some residents said.

One neighbor, who didn't want to speak on camera, said the shooting ruined the mood of the neighborhood, and she added that she's fearful for the families and children who live here.

"It was just horrifying to have to witness somebody not a lot older than my daughter lying in the street dead from what I feel was probably an unwarranted gunshot," she said.

The woman said she called 9-1-1 after she saw the trooper perform CPR on Diaz.

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During the stop, SHP said the suspect showed a pistol and a trooper fired his gun, hitting 21-year-old Mark Anthony Diaz of Staley.

"That right there should never have happened," said a friend, Lewis Alston, "it's a shock. this is totally shock; a random traffic stop, come on now."

Moises Diaz added: "They could have detained him at least, but they took his life away. It's terrible."

What happened in Siler City on Monday brought friends to tears on Tuesday. The unanswered questions burned right along with the candles they lit in memory of Diaz at a vigil in the same neighborhood of the fatal shooting.

"We never thought it was going to happen in this little town. But it happened," said Tyler Paige, Diaz's best friend who said Diaz was driving to see him Monday afternoon to do what he loved: watch anime cartoons on TV.. "It just hurts. He was really a good person and loved by many."

The friends who mourned Diaz on Tuesday night with a balloon release said Diaz was not someone who'd try to shoot or kill police.

"(Highway Patrol) can try to make (Diaz) out to be a gangster. They can try to make him out to be a thug. But those who knew him know the person they're making him out to be is not who he was," said Evans, who attended the vigil.

Like many others in the neighborhood, Evans is anxious to see the trooper's body-cam video to help get answers.
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