A North Carolina man was shot and killed Monday while streaming on Facebook Live, according to local authorities.
Prentis Robinson, 55, was gunned down in the town of Wingate, N.C., 50 kilometres southeast southeast of Charlotte, after he stopped at police headquarters to report a stolen cell phone.
“Bring his phone back so he can get on with his way today,” Wingate Police Chief Donnie Gay said to Robinson’s camera, according to The Charlotte Observer.
Video posted to Facebook shows Robinson recording himself with a selfie stick, wearing a straw cowboy hat and walking down a street just blocks from the police station. Neighbours told local media locals often use social media to publicize neighbourhood disputes.
Moments later, Robinson is approached by someone off-camera. Robinson says “you’re live, you’re live” and points the camera in the assailant’s direction. The second man then opens fire and then Robinson – along with his camera – falls to the ground.
“OMG (what) just happened,” said one person, commenting on the livestream seconds after the shooting.
According to WSCO, Douglas Cleveland Colson, 65, was identified by police as a suspect in the shooting, and has now turned himself in.
Wingate University and Wingate Elementary School were placed on lockdown for a couple of hours after the shooting, although the shooting didn’t occur on either campus.
Friends and neighbours who knew Robinson – a man whose Facebook page is filled with videos of him playing the guitar – were shocked by the killing.
“That’s just unreal. 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,” Charles Baker, who knew Robinson for more than 30 years.
“That’s a life. Human being. It’s sad,” an unidentified woman told WBTV. “We were just beside ourselves, this close to the police department that, something like this could happen.”
Robinson’s murder is the latest in a string of killings and other crimes that have been broadcast on Facebook Live since the application launched in 2015. The 2016 U.S. police killing of Philando Castile, a triple shooting in Virginia, a gang sexual assault in Chicago, and a man in Thailand who hung his own daughter are some of the more recent, and chilling cases.
Facebook announced in 2017 it was hiring 3,000 employees to help screen violent live videos before they spread across the network.