A West Virginia man shot and killed his new neighbor and the man's brother without warning as the two inspected their land.
The shooter told police he thought his alleged victims were breaking into a building he mistakenly thought he owned, and police are baffled as to why he chose such a drastic measure to preserve something of no value to him.
The Cabell County Sheriff's Department charged Rodney Bruce Black, 62, of Barboursville, with two counts of first degree murder after he killed Garrick Hopkins, 60, of Milton and his brother, Carl Hopkins Jr., 61, of Oak Hill, at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Sherriff Tom McComas told the Daily News on Monday.
Garrick Hopkins and his wife had just purchased land next door to Black and planned to start building a home in the next few weeks, McComas said. The landowner had invited his brother over to check out the property Saturday afternoon.
Black saw the two men — who were both married with children — looking inside a shed. Then, allegedly without warning or calling the police, he grabbed a rifle and fired once at both men.
They died at the scene.
"He shot first and then called 911," McComas said. "He said they were breaking into his house but it wasn't his property."
The structure did not contain anything of value, McComas said. The building sits on land once owned by Black's family but not anymore, he said.
The sheriff said they are continuing to investigate the incident to determine why Black, who was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol, would shoot the two unarmed men.The department believes Black had never met the two men before.
"It's just a terrible, terrible tragedy," he said. "We're still trying to figure all of this out. … Hopefully we'll find out his reasoning as the investigation continues."
Police also seized a large amount of weapons and ammunition from Black's home.
The two victims are black and the shooter is white but McComas said there is no indication race was a factor in the the suspect's motive.
Black is being held at county jail without bail and his next court date will be held Feb. 4