By Nathan Hardin
KANNAPOLIS — Family and friends mourned Tuesday as investigators continued searching for answers in the shooting death of a 17-year-old A.L. Brown High School student.
Dozens of friends gathered around the school rock Tuesday morning to honor the memory of Daniel Lee Cooper, who was shot in the neck Monday afternoon while a passenger in a car on Snow Street.
Kannapolis Police investigators have obtained a murder warrant for Darius Jamal Smotherson, who they believe to be one of three involved in the shooting. He had not been arrested Tuesday evening.
The shooting took place around 3 p.m. Monday in the 400 block of Snow Street in north Kannapolis, police said. Emergency crews found Cooper in a white Honda Prelude less than half a mile away on West 22nd Street.
Cooper was taken by ambulance to Carolinas Medical Center-NorthEast in Concord, where he later died.
The name of the person driving the Honda has not been released.
Cooper’s mother, Laura Tucker, said her son would have celebrated his 18th birthday on Saturday.
“I’m at a loss for words,” she said Tuesday. “He was getting ready to graduate in a few weeks.”
Tucker declined to comment further but said she hopes anyone with information about the murder calls 911.
The three men believed to be involved in the shooting were last seen running away from Snow Street, officers said. Police tape was tied along the roadside near a walking path Tuesday.
Smotherson, 19, has a last known address on Glendale Avenue, police said.
The second suspect is described as a black male in his early to mid-20s, standing about 6 feet tall and weighing 130 to 150 pounds. He has a bald head and short goatee. He was wearing a white T-shirt with a design on it.
The third suspect is described as a black male in his early to mid-20s, also about 6 feet tall and 130 to 150 pounds. A witness was not able to describe his clothing.
According to the N.C. Department of Corrections, Smotherson remains on probation after being convicted in January of violation of a protective order, damage to personal property and firearm in civil disorder, all misdemeanors.
Smotherson was given 12 months probation.
Friends of Cooper filled his Facebook wall, as well as Twitter, with farewell posts.
Hundreds of tweets included, “R.I.P. Daniel Cooper,” in a search Tuesday night.
Several dozen also surrounded the school rock, which was painted purple Tuesday morning, to honor Cooper’s memory.
Jordan Baker, an engineering teacher, had Cooper in his second block class.
“He was a really creative kid,” Baker said. “He worked well with others. He liked to laugh. He was just a good kid.”
In each of Cooper’s classes, a bouquet of flowers sat in his seat, honoring the senior.
“A lot of students took some time to remember him and think about him,” Baker said.
Some students were emotional, while others focused on the happy memories, Baker said.
“Daniel was a good guy, and he’s going to be missed,” he said.
Grief counselors from other area high schools were brought in to work with grieving students at A.L. Brown Tuesday.
“They will be there as long as they are needed,” said Kannapolis City Schools spokeswoman Ellen Boyd.
Police said a reward is available to anyone who can provide information leading to an arrest and conviction in the murder.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Kannapolis Police Department at 704-920-4000 or Crime Stoppers at 704-932-7463.
By Nathan Hardin