BLADENBORO — The man at the center of an investigation into the fatal shooting of a woman in Bladenboro in the early morning hours of April 14 claims it was the woman herself who pulled the trigger during a struggle for the weapon.
Patricia Scott Cooper, 38, was shot at about 2:30 a.m. outside the Ash Street apartments and pronounced dead at Bladen County Hospital at about 3:31 a.m.
Johnny Yarbrough, 56, who has been tabbed as a “person of interest” by investigators, said in an interview with the Bladen Journal on Monday that Cooper was the aggressor and arrived at his apartment wielding a 14-inch fillet knife. Yarbrough and Cooper had dated for less than a year before he said he broke up with her back in January.
“She was dropped off by a Bladenboro Police officer at about midnight,” Yarbrough said. “And she began pounding on my door with her fists and the handle of the knife. I didn’t want the noise waking the neighbors up, because it was awfully loud, so I opened the door.”
Yarbough said Cooper came into his apartment and immediately began cussing and threatening him.
“I think she may have been on something … she was out of control,” Yarbrough said. “At one point, my 12-year-old grandson came out of his bedroom and heard what she was saying.”
He said Cooper was saying he “could have all the whores he wanted” and that she had “just (had sexual relations) with a cop.”
Yarbrough said he went back to his recliner and sat down. He said his grandson went back in the bedroom, but Cooper was still hollering and, at one point, stuck the knife into the floor and began wandering around the apartment.
“She kept threatening to kill me,” Yarbrough said. “And she’d threatened to kill several of the neighbors at one time or another.”
Yarbrough, who said he remained in his recliner “hoping she would wear herself out and leave,” added that he had a number of guns in his apartment — including two in the sides of the recliner and one on the couch under some clothing.
After a while, Yarbrough said Cooper went to the couch, tossed the clothes aside and took the gun.
“She began waving it around, and then went out the door,” he said. “I didn’t want her out there with my gun, not knowing what she was going to do, so I went after her.”
Yarbrough said he hollered for her when he got outside and she stopped.
“She turned toward me and had both her hands behind her back,” he said. “I tried to ask for the gun back, but she began to pull the gun toward me … so I lunged at her.”
He said he tried to grab the gun, but instead got Cooper’s arm and kept it behind her.
“I never at any time had control of the weapon,” Yarbrough said. “And that’s when she said, ‘That’s alright, I’ll pull the trigger,’ and she did.
“When she hit the dirt, I said to her, ‘Trish, what have you done?’” Yarbrough said. “And that’s when I went in and called 911.”
According to Bladenboro Police Chief Chris Hunt, he’s not able to comment about the ongoing investigation.
“At this time, we’re working with the SBI on some scientific evidence that’s being processed,” Hunt said. “There are so many rumors out there that are hindering us.”
But Hunt did say that none of his offers were being investigated as part of the April 14 incident.
Yarbrough said he was taken to Fayetteville last week for a polygraph by the State Bureau of Investigation.
“I’ve done nothing but tell the honest to God’s truth,” he said.