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Murder suspect surrenders after killing North Carolina man on Facebook Live

He allegedly shot and killed Prentis Robinson, 55, just a block away from the police department.

by Zoha Qamar
Feb 27 2018, 4:00pm

Douglas Cleveland Colson, 65, fled the scene after allegedly gunning down a North Carolina resident walking home from the police station, video of the incident showed. But now, he’s turned himself in.

Colson, who police named as a suspect in the murder, surrendered to the Wingate Police Department on Tuesday morning, county police said, according to local channel and CBS-affiliate, WBTV. A day earlier, Colson allegedly shot and killed Prentis Robinson, 55, just a block away from the police department. Prentis, an avid user of Facebook Live, caught his own murder on video while streaming his walk home from the department after reporting his phone stolen.

In the video, a man off-camera, who police later identified as Colson, approaches Robinson and asks if he’s “on Live” before firing four shots. After that, both Robinson and his phone fall immediately. A corner of the frame then shows Colson running away and, eventually, a car passing after its passenger sees Robinson’s body.

Once they arrived, authorities pronounced Robinson dead at the scene. Colson is being charged with first-degree murder, police said, according to WBTV.

Robinson was a known critic of illicit drug activity around Wingate. In a Live video from Jan. 1 still up on his account as of Tuesday, Robinson accused Colson of selling drugs, especially to young boys who end up getting caught.

After Robinson’s death became public, a commenter wrote on one of his previous videos: “”Keep ur [mouth] close…it is now permanently so no worries,” according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

In March of last year, Facebook announced the hiring of 3,000 more moderators, for a total of 7,500, to review Live videos, according to a Facebook post by Mark Zuckerberg. Moderators now work to prevent the streaming of deaths and crimes, as well as other offences such as hate speech or child exploitation, although the system doesn’t always work.

Facebook has since taken down video of Robinson’s death, although it’s unclear how long the footage remained on the site. "Because we cannot have known that the victim would have wanted this horrific act to be live streamed on social media, we have removed the original video," a Facebook spokesperson told ABC News.

Since Facebook launched its live video platform in April 2016, death has become a worrying trend among several videos shared through the feature. Users have streamed graphic suicides and murders — both purposeful and accidental. Earlier this month, for example, a Facebook Live video captured two deaths, including a 2-year-old boy, and the injury of a pregnant woman during a shooting in Chicago.

But the issue isn’t unique to Facebook. While using his Instagram Live feature, a 13-year-old boy in Georgia accidentally shot himself when handling a gun in April 2017.

Cover image: Screenshot from Prentis Robinson's Facebook Live video.