A man in Wingate, North Carolina with an alleged habit of “outing” drug dealers on Facebook live-streamed his own murder on Monday—very possibly at the hands of one of those he crossed.
Per the Charlotte Observer, Prentis Robinson was shot near the Wingate Police Department on Facebook Live shortly after live-streaming a discussion with Chief Donnie Gay on the subject of his stolen cell phone. According to the paper’s account, Robinson saw someone on the street and unsuccessfully attempted to persuade that individual to leave him alone, citing his online viewers:
About five and a half minutes into the video, he encountered someone else off-camera.
Robinson apparently said “You on live” several times, trying to tell the other person he was filming on Facebook.
A man holding a long black object briefly appeared on camera before several shots rang out.
“Omg (what) just happened,” one person commented on Facebook seconds after the shooting.
According to the Washington Post, Robinson was shot several times; his camera landed face up “so that the rest of the Facebook Live video showed the sky and treetops as the suspect ran away.”
The shooting sent nearby Wingate University into lockdown, the paper added. Police obtained an arrest warrant for a Marshville man named Douglas Colson who they believe was the gunman, WSOC-TV reported. Later, North Carolina police confirmed that they have arrested an unnamed suspect, according to Reuters.
Family members and authorities confirmed to Fox 46 that Robinson had a habit of trying to assist law enforcement efforts to locate drug dealers. Gay told the network that while he believed that Robinson might land himself in trouble for doing so, he had no reason to believe that could escalate into murder.
“I’d just spoke to him, it was, I just ... it’s hard to say anything about that,” Gay told WSOC-TV. “I just got through talking to him.”
“That just unreal,” Charles Baker, who said he knew Robinson for over 30 years, told the station. “For somebody to have that kind of heart to just walk out in the open like that and kill a man, that’s just, it’s nonsense.”
A number of homicides or their aftermath have gone down on Facebook Live since the tool launched in 2015, including a double murder in Thailand, the apparently random killing of 74-year-old Cleveland man Robert Goodwin, and a depressing string of US police killings. Facebook, which last year initiated the process of hiring 3,000 new content moderators to slow the spread of violent content throughout the site, removed the footage of Robinson’s death fairly quickly, though not before it was grabbed by shock content purveyors like LiveLeak.
Update 11:23 pm ET: This article has been updated with additional information from WSOC-TV.
Update 1:03 pm ET: The article has been updated with information on the suspect’s arrest.