Man accused of piloting boat while drunk, killing friend, and initially denying it has lengthy criminal past

Posted at 11:50 PM, Oct 15, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-16 11:58:23-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Cozy and historic; it's a place where people walk their dogs by college students heading out for a night and fun.

The streets of one Richmond neighborhood "fan" out like the spokes of a wheel, but sometimes, when alcohol is involved, things can spin out of control.

According to court records from a civil lawsuit filed in Richmond court, on July 17, 2011, Kevin Van Fossen saw a casual acquaintance, Rand Hooper, standing outside the Fan House restaurant on Floyd Avenue.

Hooper told Van Fossen he had been snorting Vicodin and planning to drink Jack Daniels at the bar all night, according to the lawsuit.

Later, around one in the morning, Van Fossen claims he saw Hooper again, and this time Hooper and three friends were visibly intoxicated in the back seat of his vehicle.

"There were numerous cases of beer in the truck. Everyone said they were all out drinking," Richmond Detective Anthony Coates said.

As Van Fossen told Hooper he was going home to bed, Hooper stepped out of his vehicle holding a gun and aimed it at him.

Then, according to the civil suit filed by Van Fossen, without cause or provocation, Hooper fired the gun and shot Van Fossen in the right arm.

"According to the friend, basically when they walked out of the bar Rand pulled the gun and pointed it at him at the victim and Rand pulled the trigger and fired," Coates said.

Hooper and a friend helped Van Fossen across the street to the ER at Retreat Hospital.

Richmond Police later arrested Hooper and charged him with two misdemeanors.

Detective Coates said police found an arsenal inside his car.

"Who actually rides around with two assault rifles, a shotgun, and a 9 mm Beretta? He had ammunition for the assault rifle, extra shotgun shells, baggies of 99 boxes of 223s, boxes of a 9 mm," Coates said. "He was ready for combat."

When Coates questioned Hooper about what happened, "he tells me he doesn't recall any incident at all that night, this was probably an hour, or hour and a half after the incident."

His response was similar to what a different group of investigators would hear from Rand Hooper years later.

As CBS 6 has been reporting on for months, Hooper is now accused of killing one of his best friends.

Graham McCormick, 31, was found dead in the Rappahannock River back on August 10, 2017.

Lancaster County deputies said Hooper was piloting his boat drunk when it crashed into a bulkhead, throwing McCormick overboard.

They said Hooper then left the scene without trying to find his friend.

Lancaster Commonwealth's Attorney Jan Smith said Hooper originally said he thought his friend fell off the dock and denied taking his boat out the night of the crash.

But, Smith said Hooper ultimately remembered going on the boat ride with McCormick, but could not recall who was driving.

"My brother's soul still doesn't rest in peace," Graham's brother, Gordon McCormick said.

A civil lawsuit filed by the McCormick family against Hooper has been settled. but he now faces two felony charges, including involuntary manslaughter.

Hooper was prepared to accept a controversial plea agreement back in August that would put him behind bars for one year.

But, the McCormick family spoke out against the deal and accused the prosecutor of being too lenient.

"The punishment didn't fit the crime," Gordon McCormick said.

Now, a new judge in the case has given them hope that the penalty may ultimately be stiffer.

Judge Herbert Hewitt has requested a pre-sentence report before deciding whether or not to accept the plea bargain.

That pre-sentence report, which is due back in December, should list anything criminal in Hooper's past.

From the Fan shooting to underage possession of alcohol in Goochland in 2005, to two DUIs, one in Prince Edward in 2009, and a second in Richmond two years before the boat crash - the McCormick family hopes Hooper's history will lead the judge to reject the plea and take the case to trial.

"I would really like to see somebody take this to trial and give it the trial that it deserves," Gordon McCormick said.

Hooper was ultimately found guilty in the Van Fossen case of a single misdemeanor: brandishing a firearm.

He was sentenced to 12 months in prison with 11 months and 28 days suspended.

Van Fossen survived the shooting.

His civil case against Hooper and his father, Gary Hooper was settled.



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