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Two brothers shot and killed, mistaken for trespassers

Two brothers were shot and killed in Barboursville, West Virginia on Saturday afternoon after a neighbor mistakenly believed the two men were trespassing on his property.

Garrick and Carl Hopkins were checking out property Garrick Hopkins had recently purchased when they were shot Saturday.
Photo courtesy WSAZ-TV

On Monday, the Cabell County Sheriff’s Department told the New York Daily News that Rodney Bruce Black, 62, has been charged with two counts of first-degree murder for the shooting deaths of Garrick Hopkins, 60, and Carl Hopkins, 61.

According to WSAZ 3 Huntington, in a statement Black told detectives that he saw two suspicious men “shaking the door on his tool shed in his backyard.”

Black said that he reacted by reaching to get his .243 rifle, as he loaded the gun, pointed it out of his window, and shot one of the men.

But according to, Black also claimed that he shot the other man a few seconds later because he didn’t run, because apparently in Black’s mind, nothing says innocence like fleeing.

Black admitted that he gave no warnings to the men, and he did not call 911 until after he had shot them, and there was no attempt to give first aid afterwards.

Cabell County Sheriff Tom McComas stated that the land in dispute, which is adjacent to Black’s home, at one time did belong to Black’s parents, but it had recently been sold to Garrick Hopkins and his wife. “Mr. Hopkins and his brother had gone out there to basically survey the property.”

McComas also stated that the tool shed was a “pretty good distance” away from Black’s home and contained nothing of any real value and nothing belonging to Black inside. So despite Black’s trespassing concerns, the Hopkins brothers had every right to be on their land.

Black is being held in the Western Regional Jail.

As with George Zimmerman’s mistaken, criminalized presumptions about Trayvon Martin, what is it that entices so many people to introduce the element of deadly force to deal with a situation that has been outlined by assumptions instead of facts?

Shouldn’t it be Black’s responsibility to know what is or what is not his property or what is on or what is not on his property, before he pulls out a gun and pulls the trigger on someone?

And are these kinds of tragedies really gun-control issues based on the high number of guns?

Or, does this point towards a harmful element of gun ownership, which is the inebriating power of deadly force that seems to cause some people to shoot first and ask questions later even when they are not in danger?

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