RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — A funeral was held Saturday afternoon for the 20-year-old man who was shot through a garage door and killed on Aug. 7 in Raleigh.
The service for Kouren-Rodney Thomas was held at Imago Dei Church located at 7041 Wake Forest Road in Raleigh.
The public was invited to attend the funeral, the family said in a statement.
While loved ones are still in shock over Thomas’ sudden death, they said they’re honored to have had him for 20 years.
“This has been the worst two weeks of my life so far,” Thomas’ brother, Kellen Crosby, said during the funeral service. “Unfortunately, you had to leave us early.”
At his funeral, dozens remembered the good times with Thomas, a man who loved pink, vans, mismatched socks, and his family.
“I remember how authentic he was, transparent, just a genuine friend,” said neighbor and friend Tyler Brown during the funeral service.
“Kouren wasn’t the type of kid when you saw him you had to clutch your purse, or be worried that he was in your presence,” Crosby said. “He was the type of guy that held doors for the elderly.”
The 20-year-old’s family continued to ask God for strength and hope.
“Kouren, your life was lost to make a difference, not just in North Carolina, but all over the world,” Crosby said.
As a final goodbye, everyone dressed in pink stepped outside.
“Wherever these balloons go, that’s how far his love will extend,” said Thomas’ other brother, Rockeem.
Dozens of pink balloons were then released into the sky. Thomas’ loved ones cried, “we love you Kore!”
According to authorities, police responded to call at 3536 Singleleaf Lane shortly before 1 a.m. on Aug. 7 and upon arrival, officers Thomas suffering from a shotgun wound. Thomas was transported to WakeMed and was pronounced dead.
Police said the shooting happened when a suspect who was inside his garage fired a shotgun from the inside the garage striking Thomas, who was outside the garage.
After completing their initial investigation, Raleigh Police Department detectives obtained an arrest warrant charging Chad Cameron Copley, 39, with murder.
CBS North Carolina obtained 911 calls that appear to have been made by the suspect.
“We have a house…we have a lot of people outside of our house yelling and shouting obscenities. I yelled at them ‘please leave the premises.’ They were showing firearms, so I fired a warning shot and we got someone that got hit,” the 911 caller said.
“I don’t know if they are shot, I fired my warning shot like I am supposed to by law. They do have firearms and I am trying to protect myself and family,” the 911 caller said. “I don’t know who they are…There is a park right down the road.”
“Please send PD! …(inaudible) males outside my (inaudible) house with firearms.. Please send PD!” the 911 caller said and the call then ended.
About 7 minutes before that call about the shooting, another caller who claimed he was with the neighborhood watch complained about people on Singleleaf, requested police and said he was going to “secure the neighborhood.”
“We got a bunch of hoodlums out here racing…I am locked and loaded and I am going outside to secure my neighborhood. You need to send PD as quickly as possible. I am going to secure my neighborhood. I am on the neighborhood watch. I am going to have my neighbors with me,” the caller said at 12:50 a.m.
“There is hoodlums out here racing up and down the street. It’s 1 o’clock in the morning, there is some vandalism, they have firearms — and we are going to secure our neighborhood,” he said.
Thomas’ family hired high-profile civil rights attorney Justin Bamberg, who called Copley “George Zimmerman 2.0,” in a press conference on Aug. 11.
Bamberg has represented the family of Walter Scott, who was shot and killed by a North Charleston police officer, and the family of Alton Sterling, the Baton Rouge man whose shooting by police was captured on video.
In 2012, an unarmed teenager named Trayvon Martin was shot and killed in a Florida neighborhood by George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer. Zimmerman was found not guilty of second-degree murder and manslaughter in 2013.
Copley told 911 dispatchers he was a neighborhood watchman, just like Zimmerman claimed.
When asked why he compared the Zimmerman and Copley cases, Bamberg said, “There are similarities, but I have a feeling there will be a different outcome.”
Copley is being held without bond. His next court appearance is set for Aug. 29.