Local News

Surveillance video captured shooting death

Posted March 25, 2010

— Jurors in the capital murder trial of Samuel James Cooper on Thursday watched surveillance video from a Raleigh convenience store that captured the shooting death of one of Cooper's alleged victims.

The grainy video clip depicts a man wearing a hooded sweatshirt, dark mask and dark gloves entering Bobby's Grocery on the morning of Oct. 14, 2007.

Samuel James Cooper Surveillance video captured shooting death

The store's owner, Tariq Hussain, is behind the counter, on the phone with a gun drawn, when an assailant walks toward him, aims his gun and fires.

Hussain falls to the floor. The masked gunman steps over him, takes money from the cash register, turns and flees.

The clip lasts less than 20 seconds.

Prosecutors say Hussain, 52, was attempting to use his own gun to defend himself and his business before Cooper shot him twice.

Cooper, 33, is charged with first-degree murder in the case, as well as four other shooting deaths in and near Raleigh during a 17-month period in 2006 and 2007.

Michelle Tharpe, a regular customer at Bobby's, testified Thursday, the seventh day of the trial, that she found Hussain lying on his right side, almost in a fetal position, when she stopped by the store the morning of the crime to get something to drink.

"You could see directly behind the front counter, and the owner was lying with blood everywhere," she said. "He wasn't moving."

Raleigh police officer Matthew Slocum testified to seeing a bloody boot print near Hussain's head.

Hussain, prosecutors say, was Cooper's final victim.

Dr. Deborah Radish, associate chief medical examiner for the state, testified that Hussain died from two gunshot wounds to the upper chest and lower neck.

"(Both) had such severe damage that, unless someone had been there to fix it, I don't think either one of these wounds would have been survivable," she said.

Jurors have already heard this week about the other four shootings in which Cooper is charged – Ossama Haj-Hussain, 43, on May 12, 2006; LeRoy Jernigan, 41, on June 3, 2006; Timothy Barnwell, 34, on April 27, 2007; and Ricky High, 48, on Oct. 12, 2007.

Police initially arrested Cooper in November 2007 on a bank robbery charge and subsequently connected him to the deaths through a gun he dropped while fleeing, investigators have testified.

Prosecutors say the motives in four of the shootings was robbery.

High was an unintended target in an argument between Cooper and two suspected gang members, witnesses testified Wednesday and Thursday. But once Cooper realized that he knew High, he had to kill him, too, so that he could not identify him, they said.

Defense attorneys haven't denied that Cooper shot the five men but say his violent upbringing, including years of physical abuse at his father's hands, made him develop a diminished capacity that affects his ability to think clearly, particularly in moments of stress, and causing him to act impulsively.

During cross-examination Thursday of Raleigh homicide detective George Passley, they pointed out that Cooper said in a confession that he always tried to be "kind and nice" to people he robbed at gunpoint.

Prosecutors further questioned Passley about other statements Cooper made.

One included a story about how Cooper was concerned that the male acquaintance of a female friend was trying to set him up. He told Passley in a recorded interview that he had a plan to "put them both in Jordan Lake."

But he did not.

Nor did he shoot and kill his victims in approximately a dozen other robberies to which he confessed to Passley, Wake County Assistant District Attorney Adam Moyers pointed out.

Moyers wanted to know if such statements demonstrated Cooper "exercising restraint."

"He's making all these calculated decisions on when he's going to do things and when he's not?" he asked.

"Yes, sir," Passley answered.


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  • CicnyKid Mar 26, 2010

    "Ok,well if its his parents fault then that should only count for the 1st 2 victims,..execute them,but he needs to die for the other 3."

    That still leave the accussed 2 "short," since they took 5 lives and only "gave" 3 in return. One of the reasons for the Death Penalty - the only payment for First Degree Murder is to pay with your life. When you take more than one life, how do you "pay" for the others??

  • jamesdferrell Mar 26, 2010

    Ok,well if its his parents fault then that should only count for the 1st 2 victims,..execute them,but he needs to die for the other 3.

  • Skywatch_NC Mar 26, 2010

    Wish they'd bring back the chair for thugs like Cooper.

  • Bartmeister Mar 26, 2010

    Bad parents? Nah, just a cop out. Every facet of this story is sad. As harsh as it sounds, death sentence by lethal injection is too soft. Do it like Colorado does, they still have the firing squad in tact.

  • djcgriffin Mar 26, 2010

    CicnyKid - you're absolutely right.

  • GetRight Mar 26, 2010

    First degree... Second degree... It doesn't matter. Cooper is a murderous career criminal. Clear cut case for an execution, IMO.

  • CicnyKid Mar 25, 2010

    From a previous story: "Defense attorneys don't deny that Cooper killed the five men but have said the issue in the trial is whether he acted with premeditation and deliberation."

    I think the defense is trying trying to keep it below First Degree Murder and death penalty and would consider it a victory if it ended up being second degree murder and life w/o parole as the punishment. I don't think they are claiming he's innocent.

  • nbforrest Mar 25, 2010

    If he had health insurance this would not have happened.

  • f6rider Mar 25, 2010

    WRAL your practicing extreme censorship here, I guess it goes with the New Obama era.

    Lets try it again, this guy is using the same excuse others before have made, blame it on a bad childhood, that's bunk.
    This fellow needs to pay the ultimate price for his actions, his life should be taken!

  • FitnessMan Mar 25, 2010

    put this guy 20 ft under the jail