Wingate man Prentis Robinson, moments before he was shot to death on Facebook Live.Image: Charlotte Observer
A man in Wingate, North Carolina with an alleged habit of "outing" drug dealers on Facebook live-streamed his own murder on Tuesday - very possibly at the hands of one of those he crossed.
Family members of Prentis Robinson, who was shot and killed in Wingate this morning, gave me this photo of him. They also told me he just had a birthday Friday. No arrests yet in his murder. pic.twitter.com/2UfPvmXirc
— Greg Suskin (@GSuskinWSOC9) February 26, 2018
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 have obtained an arrest warrant for a Marshville man named Douglas Colson who they believe was the gunman, WSOC-TV reported.
Just in—warrants are out for Douglas Colson for the murder of Prentis Robinson in Wingate today. Police believe Colson who is from Marshville, shot Robinson on College Street today while Robinson was on Facebook Live possibly “outing” Local suspected drug dealers. pic.twitter.com/bzfBlwQsnX
— Greg Suskin (@GSuskinWSOC9) February 27, 2018
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 know 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."
Wingate Police Chief confirms the @FOX46News report that Facebook Live shooting victim had been “outing” suspected drug dealers. Chief said he always suspected the man would’ve been beat up over it but never shot. @BrandonFox46 and myself at 6. pic.twitter.com/3MUBVH2P8C
— David Sentendrey (@DavidFox46) February 26, 2018
A number of murders 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.