NC man admits to accidentally shooting and killing his teen friend, police say

Darian Copeland (left) and victim Malik Etheridge (right) in photos from WAVY-TV

EDENTON, N.C. (WAVY/WNCN) – A North Carolina man told police he accidentally shot his close friend in the head, killing the young father early Saturday, officials say.

Officers say the suspect, 21-year-old Darian Copeland met with investigators at the Edenton Police Department and admitted to accidentally shooting and killing Malik Etheridge..

Around 12:15 a.m. Saturday, an officer on patrol reported hearing a single gunshot and called for assistance to the Wedgewood Apartments on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, according to Edenton Police Chief Jay Fortenbery.

Responding officers found Etheridge, 19, of Edenton with a single gunshot wound to the head. Etheridge, who leaves behind a young daughter, was pronounced dead on the scene.

Copeland told police he was a back seat passenger of the vehicle Malik was driving when his .357 magnum pistol accidentally discharged striking Malik in the back of the head, officials said.

Family members of both the victim and suspect said the pair were close friends.

“He wanted to tell everyone he was sorry and he didn’t mean to do it,” Copeland’s cousin Tyasia Martin told WAVY-TV.

Meanwhile, the victim’s family and friends are stunned by his death.

“Everybody is going to truly miss you Malik Etheridge,” wrote family member Ke’Anna Hunt on Facebook. “Never been so shocked and confused in my life. You was my cousin and I really wished I had talked to you more. I’m going to really miss seeing you. We just graduated, man. R.I.P.”

Copeland was charged with involuntary manslaughter and placed in the Chowan County Jail under a $100,000 bond.

Anyone with information on the shooting is asked to called the Edenton Police Department at 252-482-9884 or 252-482-5144.

— WAVY-TV contributed to this report

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