Suspect in fatal shooting at Safco turns himself in

Published 5:36 pm Thursday, April 14, 2022

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The suspect in a fatal shooting that occurred at the Safco Distribution Center in Isle of Wight County on Sept. 23 turned himself in Thursday morning, April 14, after having been a fugitive for nearly seven months.

The Isle of Wight County Sheriff’s Office stated in an April 14 press release that at 11:44 a.m., Preston Kyle Thomas turned himself in to the sheriff’s office. Deputies took him into custody without incident.

Thomas had been a fugitive since being wanted for allegedly murdering 26-year-old Rakim Breeden on Sept. 23 at the Safco center, the release stated. Police added that in addition to felony murder, Thomas is charged with the use of a firearm in the commission of a felony. 

A sheriff’s office news release from Sept. 23 stated that on that afternoon, the Isle of Wight 911 Communications Center was alerted to a shooting at the Safco Distribution Center located in the Shirley T. Holland Industrial Park just outside of the town of Windsor in Isle of Wight. Personnel from the sheriff’s office along with officers from the Windsor Police Department responded to that location. 

Upon arrival of officers, Breeden was found to be suffering from an apparent gunshot wound.

The release stated that law enforcement developed a suspect — 23-year-old Preston Kyle Thomas.

According to the sheriff’s office, Breeden had damaged Thomas’ cellphone when he knocked it off a ledge, provoking an argument between the two employees. Thomas then allegedly retrieved a gun from his car and shot Breeden multiple times during a second argument while the two were outside on break. Breeden died en route to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital that same day.

“When I say this was a senseless tragedy, I cannot underscore that enough,” said sheriff’s office spokesman Capt. Tommy Potter at a Feb. 8 press conference announcing a $5,000 reward for any information that led to Thomas’ arrest.

According to Potter, Thomas has had prior minor arrests.

The day of the shooting, deputies checked Thomas’ last known address in the 300 block of Sanctuary Cove Way in Carrollton, police stated. Although they saw a car there that belonged to Thomas that had been seen leaving the scene of the shooting, Thomas was not there.

“We did receive some information that just prior to our arrival, he was there, and he had left,” Potter said.

Potter also noted Feb. 8 that investigators had since made dozens of trips to the Peninsula, where Thomas was alleged to have fled after leaving Carrollton, and they had continued to work with Peninsula and state law enforcement agencies in their search. Potter said Thomas was still “believed to be in the local area” intermittently.

Mary Breeden, Rakim’s mother, partnered with the Isle of Wight County Crime Line to offer the reward, and at the Feb. 8 press conference, she shared some personal details about her son, who was in the midst of his first day on the job at the Safco Distribution Center on Sept. 23.

She described Rakim as a “straight-A student” who “didn’t bother people.” He had put himself through college, earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology after a tour in the National Guard. He had moved back in with her in Como, North Carolina, to care for her after she was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer.

“I have a personal message for Mr. Thomas,” Isle of Wight County Sheriff James Clarke Jr. said at the press conference. “Turn yourself in peacefully. If you don’t, we will not stop looking for you. We will find you, and you will answer to these charges.”

Isle of Wight County Deputy Alecia T. Paul stated Tuesday, April 19, that Thomas was being held at Western Tidewater Regional Jail without bond.