(RALEIGH, N.C.) — The North Carolina mother whose unarmed son was killed while leaving a house party in Raleigh says she believes race may have been a factor in the shooting.
"They don't call a group of white boys hoodlums. My kids are not hoodlums," Simone Butler-Thomas told ABC News. "No child black or white should have to be shot down before they even have a life."
Her 20-year-old son, Kouren Rodney Thomas, was killed early Sunday after a 911 caller complained of "hoodlums" in his neighborhood.
"We have a bunch of hoodlums out here. I'm locked and loaded," a caller told 911 dispatch. "I'm going outside to secure my neighborhood."
Police say six calls were made to 911. One included remarks about race. "There is black males outside my freakin' house with firearms, please send PD," he said.
According to authorities, Chad Copley, 39, fired a shotgun once out of his garage, striking Thomas as he walked by.
Thomas was walking with a friend, David Walker, to their parked car down the street when he was shot, said Butler-Thomas, who found out about the incident from her son's friends and witnesses at the scene. Walker also denied Copley's claims about the presence of firearms. Investigators have so far not found any weapons connected with the case, other than the one fired by Copley.
"It was silent," Walker told The News & Observer in Raleigh. "No fighting and no arguing and no one waving guns."
Raleigh Police said Copley was arrested hours after he fired the shotgun that hit the victim. Copley is charged with murder.
Butler-Thomas says she moved her family to North Carolina in 2001 for the safety of her three boys. She said her son was a self-taught trumpet player, loved basketball and never got into any trouble.
She also called her son a cautious young man. "Mister safety 101. He won't let you get in a car without a seat belt," she remarked.
The District Attorney is presenting the case to a grand jury at the end of this month.
Copley's lawyer, Raymond Tarlton, said in a statement, "We urge restraint and that folks not rush to judgment."
Grieving her son's death, Butler-Thomas is calling for justice.
"Race did play a part and it has to end. Somebody has to get this to end," she said.
Thomas' mother has started a GoFundMe page seeking donations to help cover the funeral expenses.
"How do you plan a funeral for a child?" Butler-Thomas said.
Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.