Raleigh, North Carolina, police officers fired 30 rounds during a chaotic May 7 incident in which a now-deceased suspect threw fecal matter and Molotov cocktails at police vehicles and officers, authorities said in a preliminary report released Friday.
Reuel Rodriguez-Nunez, 37, was transported to a hospital following the incident but succumbed to his injuries.
Rodriguez-Nunez drove into a Raleigh Police Department (RPD) parking lot around 1 p.m. on May 7 and threw what detectives believed to be fecal matter and urine at the station’s main entrance. He then thew Molotov cocktails at two police vehicles, setting them on fire.
Rodriguez-Nunez proceeded to place cups filled with liquid around the parking lot and “then sat in the rear area of his van with the rear van door open,” the preliminary report states.
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Lieutenant M.F. Schabel arrived at the scene at about 1:18 p.m. and contacted dispatch to send the Raleigh Fire Department to the police station due to a police vehicle on fire. As Schabel approached Rodriguez-Nunez, the suspect threw liquid at the officer’s vehicle, followed by a Molotov cocktail. Schabel remained in the vehicle but reversed away from Rodriguez-Nunez.
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Three other officers then responded to the scene upon Schabel’s request. Officer B.A. Beausoleil repeatedly told Rodriguez-Nunez, “Do not do it,” “Don’t do any more,” “Don’t do it,” and “Don’t do it, bro.”
Schabel moved his vehicle out of the parking lot and then approached Rodriguez-Nunez on foot in an apparent effort to deescalate the situation and notified dispatch that the suspect had a knife in his pocket.
“What’s going on, man?” Schabel asked Rodriguez-Nunez as he approached the suspect.
“Today… is my day… to… move on,” Rodriguez-Nunez said before throwing another Molotov cocktail at officers, according to the report.
Four officers then began to approach the suspect and gave him repeated commands to stop and take his hand out of his pocket. As they approached, Rodriguez-Nunez lit another Molotov cocktail and threw it in the direction of Officer P.W. Coates, at which point all four officers fired their weapons, totaling about 30 rounds, the report states.
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Officers carried Rodriguez-Nunez away from the burning vehicles and attempted life-saving procedures until EMS arrived and transported the suspect to a hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries, as FOX 8 first reproted.
Detectives later determined that Rodriguez-Nunez’s physical description and vehicle matched that of a suspect wanted for attempting to set fire to gas pumps at a convenience store on Capital Boulevard on May 6, according to the report.
Rodriguez-Nunez’s brother told WRAL that the 37-year-old had recently been released from jail and had a history of mental health issues.
A GoFundMe for Rodriguez-Nunez describes him as “loving and caring.”
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“We are all devastated by the sudden loss of our brother, Reuel Rodriguez. He passed away on May 7th, 2022. Our family was not prepared for this, and during this challenging time, we ask families and friends to help give our brother a memorable goodbye,” a description for the fundraiser reads. “Reuel Rodriguez was known as a funny and caring person. He is going to be missed. Thank you all in advance.”
The North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) is investigating the shooting and will submit its findings to the Wake County District Attorney for review. RPD detectives and the RPD Office of Professional Standards are also conducting separate investigations into the incident.