Suspect in Kannapolis shooting still on the loose

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 24, 2012

By Nathan Hardin
KANNAPOLIS — Police are asking for the public’s help in finding a suspect in the fatal Monday shooting of a 17-year-old A.L. Brown High School student.
Darius Jamal Smotherson, 19, faces a murder charge in the death of Daniel Lee Cooper. Authorities have been seeking Smotherson and two others reportedly involved since obtaining a warrant for his arrest Tuesday afternoon.
Smotherson’s last known address was on Glendale Avenue in Kannapolis. Before that, he lived on Shannon Drive in Concord, police say.
Cooper, who lived on Florida Avenue, was to graduate from A.L. Brown on June 8. Instead, he’ll be buried Friday, a day before what would have been his 18th birthday.
The shooting happened in the Rowan County section of north Kannapolis.
Cooper was shot in the neck as he sat in the passenger seat of a white Honda Prelude on Snow Street about 3 p.m. Monday afternoon, police said. The car’s driver went about a half mile to a home in the 300 block of West 22nd Street and pulled into the driveway.
Investigators said neither Cooper nor the driver, whose name has not been released, had any relation to the homeowner.
Paramedics took Cooper to Carolinas Medical Center-NorthEast where he later died.
His funeral will be held at 4 p.m. Friday at Wilkinson Funeral Home’s chapel, an obituary on the funeral home’s website said. He will be buried at Carolina Memorial Park in Kannapolis.
Cooper was born in Mecklenburg County and attended South Rowan High School for two years before transferring to A.L. Brown, his obituary said.
The notice said he loved motocross, skateboarding, artwork “and especially his dog.”
At A.L. Brown this week, friends and educators remembered him by painting the spirit rock in front of the school and placing a bouquet of flowers in his seat during classes.
Engineering teacher Jordan Baker called Cooper “a really creative kid. He worked well with others. He liked to laugh. He was just a good kid.”
A school official said Cooper’s space at graduation will be kept empty.
Survivors include his mother Laura Osmond Tucker, father Todd Cooper, and brother Steven Cooper.
A witness told police there were three people at the scene of the murder.
The second person 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 person 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.
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.