Raleigh Man Facing Murder Charges For Ill-Advised "Warning Shot"

A Raleigh, NC man will face a court appearance today where he is to be arraigned on murder charges for stepping into his garage and firing a shotgun into a group of people standing outside his home.

A man will appear in court Monday for his connection with Sunday’s fatal shooting of a 20-year-old man.

Around 2:30 a.m., officers with the Raleigh Police Department located a gunshot victim, Kouren-Rodney Bernard Thomas, in the 3500 block of Single Leaf Lane in Raleigh.

Thomas was transported to WakeMed, where he died as a result of his injuries.

Authorities later arrested 39-year-old Chad Cameron Copley, who owns the home.

According to officials, Copley fired a shotgun from inside his garage, striking Thomas. Thomas was outside Copley’s garage when he was shot, authorities say.

“We have a lot of people outside our house yelling and shouting profanities,” said an unspecified 911 caller. “They were showing a firearm, so I fired a warning shot, and somebody got hit.”


Let’s unpack all the ways Chad Cameron Copley (pictured above) screwed up, based on the evidence we know so far.

The first is that he left the relative protection of his home to go into his garage confront a group in the darkness beyond. He put his life at risk, instead of doing the smart thing, which is to call 911 and let officers arriving at the scene handle the issue.

But Copley didn’t do the smart thing.

He went out and confronted the group and they started cursing at him.

Copley then says, “they were showing a firearm.”

He didn’t say they threatened him with it or brandished the weapon, and he didn’t consider it a deadly force threat. If he did, he would have fired at the man pointing the gun and would be at most facing a manslaughter charge.

But Copley—clearly the 911 caller referenced in the story—didn’t claim that he was using his shotgun in lawful self-defense. Copley claims that he fired a “warning shot.”


His “warning shot” struck and killed Kouren-Rodney Bernard Thomas.

Copley appears to have indicted himself with 911 calls that were essentially a confession.




You don’t tell the police that you are going to “secure your neighborhood” and then tell the dispatcher that they “better send police quickly” because you’re about to take the law into your own hands.

You never fire a warning shot. Warning shots are illegal nearly everywhere. You’re either justified in firing a shot in self defense at a violent person, or you aren’t authorized in discharging a firearm at all.

Chad Cameron Copley did not want to wait for law enforcement, took the law into his own hands, was ignorant of the applicable laws, and then discharged a weapon when he got over his head.

Kouren-Rodney Bernard Thomas may have been a jerk taunting Copley. He may have been a spectator. He may have been some guy completely unaware of Copley who just happened to walk by when Copley levelled his shotgun and fired.

All we know for sure is that Copley fired a shot that he did not need to fire, and Thomas is dead as a result.

If you’re going to obtain a firearm, folks, you need to know more than just basic firearms safety and manipulation. You need to know explicitly how the laws of self-defense work in your state, and when you may lawfully use a firearm in self-defense.

Quite frankly, if you own a firearm, haven’t been to a defensive firearms class (no a concealed carry certification class doesn’t count), and haven’t read Andrew Branca’s The Law of Self Defense*, then you’re setting yourself up to potentially be the next Chad Copley.

Get armed, but get trained.
* Disclosure: Andrew Branca, author of The Law of Self Defense, is a Bearing Arms contributor.