Local News

Returned Search Warrants Provide New Insight in Cooper Murder Probe

Posted December 17, 2007 11:54 a.m. EST
Updated December 17, 2007 8:30 p.m. EST

— Investigators found a pistol and 23 bullets inside the home of Samuel James Cooper, and six rounds are the type used in at least three of the five homicides he's charged with committing, according to recently returned search warrants.

The Ruger P94 .40-caliber pistol, six 9 mm Luger bullets and 17 .40-caliber bullets were among the 86 items seized from the house that  Cooper, 30, and his parents shared at 2300 Creech Road in Raleigh.

Also seized from the house was dark clothing, including a black security jacket, blue ski mask, a bank bag, $200 in cash, duct tape, white nylon rope and nine cell phones, six of which did not work.

Also listed in the warrant were a "Citizen Against Homicide" document and "Sam Cooper propaganda mail."

Police would not describe those items or comment on the items seized. A spokesman said the list speaks for itself.

Cooper, who was charged Nov. 27 with a string of homicides dating to May 2006, was initially arrested Nov. 21 in connection with a Garner bank robbery. According to the search warrant, dated Nov. 23, police found a 9 mm handgun containing Luger ammunition in a white Dodge Caravan that Cooper was driving at the time. "Luger" denotes a 9 mm bullet of a certain length.

Investigators said it was the same kind of ammunition recovered from the scenes where the victims – Timothy Barnwell, Ricky High and Tariq Hussain – were found.

Barnwell, 34, died April 27 after police found him outside his second-story apartment at Windsor Falls Apartments. Police said his ankles and wrists were bound with duct tape and rope and that he jumped off his apartment's balcony to escape and might have tried to crawl away before he was shot multiple times.

High, 48, was shot and killed near St. Augustine's College on Oct. 12; Hussain, 52, was found dead two days later inside Bobby's Grocery at 3114 Garner Road.

Cooper, 30, was indicted last week on five counts of murder, including the May 12, 2006, shooting death of Ossama "Sam" Haj-Hussein, 43, and June 3, 2006, death of LeRoy Jernigan, 41, of Clayton.

Authorities believe robbery was a motive in all five cases.

According to court records, Cooper has a criminal record dating from 1993 in Wake County. It includes 10 arrests, 19 charges, including assault on a police officer, escape from prison, robbery, assault on a female, drug charges and larceny.

He is also a suspect in one home invasion in Rockingham County and is charged in connection with another one there.

Cooper is being held without bond in the Wake County Jail. Prosecutors are expected to announce next month whether they will seek the death penalty.