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Community reacts to police shooting of Roderick Merchant Jr.

College Station Police look for aggravated assault suspect
Posted at 8:41 PM, May 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-26 17:51:34-04

COLLEGE STATION, TX — Roderick Merchant Jr., a College Station native, was killed by police at the Eastmark apartments on Sunday afternoon.

For College Station, this is the second officer-involved shooting resulting in death since the start of 2021. Members of the community, including those who knew Merchant, are asking if Sunday had to end the way it did?

Residents of the Eastmark apartments said the shooting took place outside of the building adjacent to the complex's basketball court.

According to College Station Police Chief Billy Couch, who spoke at a press conference on Sunday, 21-year-old Merchant was seen carrying a rifle.

“The officers were trying to convince [Merchant and a second party] to come down the stairs, at which point the suspect stepped out onto the landing and fired a shot from his rifle into the ceiling," the chief relayed.

Couch said the officers tried to convince Merchant to drop the weapon for several minutes. Merchant, he said, then began shooting the rifle and advancing on police officers. This is when two officers returned fire, killing Merchant. Couch said the officers had immediately rendered medical care at the scene.

"I don't think it was right for the cops to take someone's life," said Jazmin Green, a resident of Eastmark and acquaintance of Merchant's. "The worst-case scenario could have been, 'Hey, put the gun down and we'll arrest you and charge you with assault with a firearm.' But to shoot the kid and take his life away when he's only 21?"

Green said she knew Merchant, and attended high school with him. Though they were not close friends, she said the young man she knew was friendly, laid back, and loved sports.

Green recalled being awoken by the sound of a single gunshot on Sunday, followed by three rapid-fire shots.

"So we go downstairs and see a cop with his gun-running to the building it happened in, with his gun posted," Green said. "Then the cop came back to his car and got another gun, and had backup come and post at different places, too."

Tamara Waldon, a lifelong College Station resident, is a close friend of the Merchant family and watched Roderick, whom she calls ‘Little Rod,’ grow up. She said the young man’s circle of friends and family are brokenhearted, and the way he died was unnecessary.

"It's disheartening to me because I've seen the College Station Police Department deescalate situations differently," Waldon said. To always resort to gun violence as it relates to African Americans, needs to stop."

Waldon hopes College Station police will release body camera footage and be transparent with the community.

"I've seen College Station police react in a number of instances, and as I said before, it's always different as it relates to African Americans and the community."

KRHD News requested an interview with College Station’s Mayor, City Manager, and Police Chief. All three declined an interview until the investigation into the incident has progressed further.