Raleigh vigil honors 'caring, loving' shooting victim

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- Many came to Millbrook Exchange Park in Raleigh on Friday evening to remember the life of 20-year-old Kouren Thomas.

He was allegedly shot and killed early Sunday morning as he was leaving a party by Chad Thomas Copley.

Copley called 911 to report "hoodlums" on his street and says he fired a warning shot, killing Thomas. Copley was subsequently arrested and charged with murder. He is currently being held at Wake County Detention Center.

Thomas' close friend, Danielle Harris, organized Friday's vigil and says her love for Thomas will last forever.

Kouren-Rodney Bernard Thomas


"I want him to be remembered for being overprotective, caring, loving, goofy, and free spirited," she told ABC11. "I want him to be remembered for what he did. He loved his mom. He loved his family. He loved his friends. I want people to remember him for that. I don't want his legacy to be in vain."

The news of Thomas' death prompted Durham resident Quincy Brown to come to the vigil and share his thoughts and support.

"No matter what is going on, the best way for us to get through this is to have understanding, compassion, and love. And that's the best way for us to heal", he said. "It hurt me, not just as being an African-American, but as being a man in general. Seeing a man take another man's life for no reason."

In fact, several people heard about Thomas' death and felt it necessary to support the family by showing up to the vigil.

Family friend Andrea Tilton knew Thomas quite well -- as her son was a close friend.


She said Thomas and her son were supposed to be celebrating this evening. Instead, she and her son are in mourning.

Twenty doves are prepared for release. One for each year of Thomas' life.

DeJuan Hoggard

"(Kouren) was hard working, and he was just a joy. A joy to be around. And this loss is tremendous," she cried. "Today is my son's 21st birthday and they had plans. And anyone who knew Kouren is completely heartbroken."

Toward the conclusion of the vigil, the crowd released 20 doves in honor of Thomas. Each dove representing a year of his life.

ABC11 also learned the family was advised by their attorney to not attend Friday's vigil due to the case being an "open investigation."

A fundraiser will also be held for Thomas at the McDonald's on Falls of Neuse Road on Aug. 18 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.

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The family of a 20-year-old man who was fatally shot in Raleigh holds news conference Thursday morning

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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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