The last moments of Timothy Loper Jr.'s life are clear—a surveillance video shows a man pulling a gun, firing several shots and leaving the young Marine bleeding to death in the parking lot of the 20 Horse Tavern in Camden.
The man prosecutors say was the gunman in that video, 31-year-old Camden resident Darrell Crone—also known as Darrell Greer—remains in the Camden County Jail on $2 million bail after making his first appearance in court to face a first-degree murder charge.
At least three witnesses identified Crone as the gunman, Assistant Prosecutor Christine Shah said as she read through the probable cause statement against him, and prosecutor's office detectives recovered at least five, .45-caliber shell casings at the scene.
One of those bullets struck Loper in the back, Shah said, fatally wounding him; the decorated Marine, Pine Hill resident and Highland High School graduate was pronounced dead at Cooper University Hospital in Camden a little less than 20 minutes after the shooting.
The video evidence and witness statements make it clear, Shah said, that it was Crone who fired the gun and took off in a 2000 Chevrolet Suburban SUV—the same Suburban Crone was seen parking at the club earlier that night.
The shooting stemmed from a series of altercations in the parking lot, Shah said, and though neither Loper nor Crone were originally involved, both ended up in the middle of it—and it escalated from there.
“The video footage did not show any other individuals out there armed with any kind of weapon,” she said.
But Crone's attorney, Scott R. Cohen, said it's not nearly that simple, and that it was unlikely his client could've possibly gotten inside the building with a .45 on him.
“You do get searched—patted down, top to bottom—to get into that club,” Cohen said. “It's possible whoever shot him was never in the club.”
His client was silent through the 10-minute arraignment proceeding; walled off by a row of sheriff's officers from dozens of Loper's family members who gathered in the courtroom, Crone glowered at Judge Edward McBride as the $2 million bail was upheld, and shook his head repeatedly as Shah read the prosecution's version of that night's events.
Crone has a substantial criminal background, Shah said, noting two of his convictions involved guns—an armed robbery charge where Crone used a .38-caliber handgun, and an unlawful possession of a weapon charge involving a .40-caliber handgun.
The armed robbery conviction led to a seven-year stint in prison; the second conviction happened while Crone was still out on parole, leading to additional time behind bars.
“He's been an adult for 13 years; he's spent almost 11 of them in state prison,” Shah said. “He's a tremendous flight risk.”
In addition to the first-degree murder charge, Shah said it's likely Crone will face weapons charges.