EDENTON, N.C. (WAVY) – A shooting in Chowan County has left two families changed after a 21-year-old shot and killed his friend early Saturday morning. Those close to both the victim and the suspect believe it was all an accident.
Police say 21-year-old Darian Copeland turned himself into police — saying he didn’t mean to shoot 19-year-old Malik Etheridge inside of a car in an apartment complex parking lot. Copeland is being charged with involuntary manslaughter.
It’s a tragedy that both families are struggling to understand: how could a car ride with two friends driving around end with one dead and another in jail?
“There’s no more coming back. I can’t see Malik again because of an accident that I wished never happen,” said Kissy Ford, Malik’s mother. That accident was a single gunshot to the back of Malik Etheridge’s head. Ford said, “It’s hard. It’s really hard.”
Police found Etheridge dead in a car just after midnight on Saturday. Darian Copeland admitted to accidentally shooting Etheridge from the backseat of the car. He tells police his gun accidentally discharged.
“It was an accident. He really didn’t mean to do that you know,” said Tyasia Martin, who is cousins with Copeland and went to school with Etheridge. She lives in the apartment complex where the shooting happened. So nothing could have prepared her for what she saw when she woke up on Saturday morning.
Martin said, “Having to see one of my classmates sitting in the front seat of the car slumped over like that. It’s just crazy.”
Copeland turned himself into police around 11 o’clock Saturday morning.
“He’s probably just sad, upset that it happened. It wasn’t supposed to go like that,” Martin said of her cousin. She also said she wants the violence to stop — a feeling Etheridge’s relatives share.
“These kids grew up with one another here in Edenton. They know one another and for something like this to happen, it’s traumatic. We need to stop this,” said Frank Etheridge, who is Malik’s grandfather.
“Something’s gotta change. Because we’re killing each other,” said Charles Hines, who is Malik’s other grandfather.
They hope change can come from this tragedy in honor of Etheridge.
“There’s nothing nobody can say bad about that boy. he was just a wonderful kid, all around about kid, wholeheartedly, humble,” said Ford.