WSPD concludes fatal shooting at BJ’s Restaurant was not motivated by race

Chief Catrina Thompson talks about the investigation into the murder of Julius Sampson Jr., a local barber who was shot and killed in the parking lot of BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse.

WSPD concludes fatal shooting at BJ’s Restaurant was not motivated by race
August 14
01:00 2019

Although racial epithets were used during the altercation between Julius “Juice” Sampson Jr. and Robert Granato, the Winston Salem Police Department has concluded that the fatal shooting in the parking lot of BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse last week was not racially motivated.

Less than 24 hours after an altercation inside the restaurant located near Hanes Mall ended in the loss of life, the WSPD and several elected officials held a press conference to discuss the senseless murder of Sampson, a local barber, husband and father of three, who was known and loved throughout the community.

During the press conference held at the Alexander Beaty Public Safety Training and Support Center, Chief Catrina Thompson said during the altercation both men used racial epithets, but investigators have no reason to believe Sampson’s murder was motivated by race. She said, “Detectives have no information of evidence to indicate that this incident was anything more than a random encounter that resulted in an argument that escalated into a physical confrontation and as is far too often the case, the argument concluded with deadly results.

“There is information that a racial epithet was uttered during this incident. The investigation thus far indicated that this term was allegedly uttered by both the suspect and the victim in the heat of the argument,” Thompson continued. “Detectives have found no evidence to indicate that this crime was motivated by race. Should any evidence to the contrary be developed, detectives and prosecutors will review that evidence.”

According to police reports, just after 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 6, the police were dispatched to BJ’s on reports of a disturbance. Before officers could arrive, the call was upgraded to a report of gunshots being fired. Upon arrival, officers found Sampson unresponsive from a gunshot wound. He was later pronounced dead at the scene.

Granato was arrested at the scene and charged with murder. He is currently being held at the Forsyth County Detention Center with no bond for the murder charge. Granato was also charged with carrying a concealed handgun after consuming alcohol.

Shortly after reports of Sampson’s death were made public, word began to spread on social media that Granato has white supremacist views. Photos have surfaced from Granato’s Instagram account wearing a shirt that reads “Murica” and making a hand gesture that can be connected to white supremacy. When asked if there is any video footage of the altercation between Sampson and Granato from BJ’s or anyone in the vicinity of the incident, the WSPD declined to respond. Thompson said the investigation is in the early stages, witness interviews were conducted, and information is still being gathered.

“The investigation did not reveal any prior acquaintances between the defendant and the victim,” she said. “Witness interviews were conducted, information is still being gathered to ensure law enforcement had all possible information in their possession before final charges are made by our district attorney’s office. My purpose in speaking with you today is to provide early and accurate information to our community.”

Jim O’Neil, Forsyth County district attorney, urged the community to remain calm and let the investigation run its course. He said everybody wants answers quickly, but we have to remember that investigations take time.

“Everybody wants answers quickly and everybody wants the facts of the case and I get these questions with every criminal case we handle. But the thing you have to remember is, it takes time to complete the investigation and the district attorney’s office, along with the police department, will take every step and measure possible to ensure that everybody has the right to a fair trial. No matter what you believe about a particular case, everybody gets the right to a fair trial.” O’Neil said, “We have to be able to keep the facts in-house unless and until the case moves to court. We ask the community to be patient and allow the facts to play out.”

Councilmembers Denise “D.D.” Adams, Dan Besse, Annette Scippio, Jeff MacIntosh, John Larson and James Taylor, who is chairman of the Public Safety Committee and publisher of The Chronicle, were all in attendance during the press conference. Although he was unable to attend the press conference, Mayor Allen Joines issued a statement as well.

In the statement issued to The Chronicle, Joines said, “On behalf of our entire city, I offer sincere condolences to the family of Mr. Julius Randolph Sampson. Please be assured that the City is fully investigating this terrible tragedy. While we are uncertain as to the totality of the crime, please be assured that we will investigate all aspects of the person(s) involved and take any and all appropriate action as a result of the investigation.”

Funeral services for Julius “Juice” Randolph Sampson were scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 13, at Union Baptist Church.

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Tevin Stinson

Tevin Stinson

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