Man dies when friend is pistol whipping someone and the gun accidentally discharges. That’s ….. just …… WRONG!

Police found two guns on the July 4th night a Racine man was fatally shot during a fight in the street: one near where the victim collapsed and another stashed between a fence and a car nearby, a Racine investigator testified Wednesday.

Xavier L. Cooper, 20, of Racine, was shot shortly before 11:30 p.m. July 4 on the road at 12th Street and Grand Avenue, according to police. Arsenio R. Akins, 23, also of Racine, was charged last week in Cooper’s death.

The fatal shot came from a revolver Akins reportedly was using to pistol-whip another man during a fight, investigators said. As Akins allegedly struck this man in the head with the gun, it discharged — striking Cooper, according to investigators.

“(One witness) said she observed a flash emitting from the barrel,” Investigator Don Nuttall testified during Akins’ preliminary hearing Wednesday.

After Cooper was shot, witnesses said he walked away and was found on the ground in the 700 block of 12th Street in an empty lot between two houses, Nuttall said.

When officers arrived, the .357-caliber revolver that was used to fatally shoot Cooper was found nearby between a fence and a vehicle, Nuttall said. Police also found a .380-caliber semi-automatic just out of Cooper’s reach where he fell, Nuttall testified.

“There are some people I’ve spoken to…who also placed that (.380-caliber weapon) as Mr. Akins’ gun,” Nuttall testified, but it had been passed to Cooper sometime before he was shot.

A witness said it looked like Cooper “was trying to break up the fight” at the time, Nuttall said.

Cooper and the man Akins allegedly hit with the gun had been friends until recently when some tension developed over a traffic stop, according to Akins’ criminal complaint.

Akins is charged with first-degree reckless homicide as a habitual offender and as a repeater, two counts of first-degree recklessly endangering safety, two counts of possession of a firearm by a felon and two counts of battery, according to the complaint.

The shooting occurred after Akins and his girlfriend attended the Fourth of July fireworks, according to authorities.

Kevin Klinkhammer, a Racine Gang Unit detective, said Akins’ girlfriend was holding his gun in her purse during the festivities because he was too drunk. Afterward, he fired one round during an argument with her, Klinkhammer testified. The bullet hit the street near her feet, causing chunks of concrete to strike her, he said.

“Her statement was she thought he was so drunk that’s why he didn’t hit her,” Klinkhammer testified.

Court Commissioner Alice Rudebusch found probable cause to sustain the charges against Akins. His defense attorney, Carl Johnson, entered not guilty pleas on Akins’ behalf during his arraignment Wednesday.

Johnson declined comment after the hearing, as did Akins’ mother.

Cooper’s father, Shelton Cooper, declined comment after the hearing, saying it still was too difficult.

Akins remains in the Racine County Jail on $250,000 cash bond. Rudebusch set a pretrial conference for Sept. 14.

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