Timothy Loper Sr. didn't waste any words in describing the man prosecutors say shot his son in the back amid a dispute in the parking lot of the 20 Horse Tavern early Sunday morning.
“The guy that shot him is a coward,” Loper Sr. said. “He's a coward.”
Loper and dozens of family members sat unified in court, listening as the accusations against Darrell Crone rolled out, as Assistant Prosecutor Christine Shah described how Crone grabbed a .45-caliber handgun and fired five shots, hitting Afghan War veteran and Marine Timothy Loper Jr. in the back, leaving him bleeding to death in the parking lot of the Camden club.
Loper Jr., 27, didn't survive long after being shot, and was pronounced dead not quite 20 minutes later, at 3:04 a.m. at Cooper University Hospital.
The family support for the dead Marine almost overwhelmed the courtroom; sheriff's officers had to limit the number of people streaming in, forcing a few relatives to wait in the hallway as Loper Jr.'s parents and wife, surrounded by immediate family, heard the charges read against the man authorities say killed the Pine Hill resident and Highland High School graduate.
Most of the family didn't want to speak after the 10-minute arraignment—many were in tears, looking shell-shocked—but Loper Sr. delivered their feelings in a soft-spoken but firm talk with reporters outside the Camden County courthouse.
“We just wanted to see who tore our hearts out...it's hard to explain,” he said. “It's a long, drawn-out process, but we're going to be here every step of the way.”
For Loper Sr., it was the first step in trying to get some closure, just days after his son's death; a memorial is planned for Friday, and he said the pain is being borne by everyone in the extended family—including Loper Jr.'s 6-year-old daughter.
“You hurt one of us, you hurt us all—we're all in mourning right now,” Loper Sr. said. “I not only lost a son, but I lost a best friend...we're trying our best to get through this.”
Crone, who is likely to face weapons charges on top of first-degree murder, prosecutors said, will remain in the Camden County Jail on $2 million bail, as ordered by Judge Edward McBride.