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Bank Robbery Suspect Being Investigated in 5 Murder Cases

Posted November 26, 2007

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— A man accused of robbing a Garner bank last Wednesday is being investigated in connection with several unsolved murder cases and shootings, WRAL has learned.

A source outside of the Raleigh Police Department and Wake County Sheriff's Office said Samuel James Cooper, 30, is suspected in five homicides in Raleigh and Wake County.

Rockingham County sheriff's investigators also traveled to Raleigh on Monday to investigate whether Cooper could be involved in two shooting cases there.

Possible Breaks in 2 Unsolved Cases

Meanwhile Monday, family members of two men killed in separate, unsolved homicides said police told them that they have made arrests in the cases.

Neither the Raleigh Police Department, Wake County Sheriff's Office nor the Wake County District Attorney's Office, would comment, and family members said officials have not told them the identity of the suspect or suspects.

Khurram Tariq said police notified him Monday morning that they had made an arrest last week in the Oct. 14 shooting death of his father, Tariq Hussain, 52, and that they planned to formally charge the suspect on Tuesday.

"The family is relieved, and it's going to help with the closure," Tariq said. "But personally speaking, I don't think it's going to change a thing in that my dad is not coming back."

Hussain was shot to death inside his store, Bobby's Grocery at 3114 Garner Road. Afterward, police set up checkpoints, canvassed neighborhoods and have asked for leads in an effort to find his killer.

Tariq said police told him that the suspect arrested in his father's case might be involved in other crimes in the area.

Late Monday afternoon, Rev. Diane Corlett said Raleigh police also had arrested a suspect in connection with the April 27 shooting death of Timothy David Barnwell, who police found shot outside his second-story apartment at Windsor Falls Apartments in North Raleigh.

"Ms. (Phyllis) Barnwell got a call that the alleged killer had been caught," said Corlett, the pastor at the Church of the Nativity in Raleigh, which Barnwell attended for more than 15 years with his mother.

Authorities would not say if Cooper was being questioned in either of those cases.

Rockingham County Connection

Capt. Perry Brookshire with the Rockingham County Sheriff's Office said Raleigh police recently contacted investigators there about a connection to two separate shooting cases last month involving a Samuel Cooper.

Brookshire said he was not sure how Raleigh police connected their suspect to the Rockingham County cases.

One of those was a home invasion in which the assailant shot and injured two people and stole a vehicle. The second case happened about three weeks later, Brookshire said, when the perpetrator shot two people in the face.

Cooper's Criminal Past

Cooper was arrested Nov. 21 after he allegedly robbed the Bank of America at 547 Benson Road in Garner and led police on a brief chase before he ran inside the Domino's Pizza distribution center. He was there for nearly an hour before he surrendered to police.

He is in jail on charges of robbery with a dangerous weapon and felony speeding to elude arrest in connection with last week's robbery.

According to court records, Cooper, who was last released from prison in 2006, has a criminal record that dates to 1993 in Wake County and includes 10 arrests on 19 charges, including assault on a police officer, escape from prison, robbery, assault on a female, drug charges and larceny.

Cooper was one of three inmates who, in June 1999, overpowered a guard and escaped from custody while on a Wake County inmate work crew. He was apprehended a short time later.

At that time, he was serving a 20-year sentence for armed robbery, assault and drug convictions.

Earlier Monday, Cooper's father, also named Samuel Cooper, 53, was arrested and charged with possession of a firearm by a felon. He was later released on bond. In 1994, he was convicted of indecent liberties with a child and was on probation when he was arrested.