Raleigh man meets escort for sex, refuses to pay, then shoots her friend, police say

Police say a 31-year-old man met an escort at a hotel for sex, left the room before paying her and then shot her friend when they later met to exchange money for her services.

Yaqoob Rashid Thurston, of Old Plank Road, has been charged with assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill and inflict serious injury, according to records filed with the City County Bureau of Identification.

The shooting happened Aug. 23 just before 11 p.m. at the Trestles Apartments on Old Plank Road, according to search warrants made public Thursday.

Police were alerted to reports of “shots fired” in the neighborhood. When the officers arrived they found fresh blood, bullet casings and a sneaker. But they did not find a victim or anyone else who was involved in the shooting.

Minutes later, an emergency dispatcher reported that a gunshot victim had just arrived at Duke Health Raleigh.

The woman working as an escort had driven the victim, Steven Cantrell, to the hospital. He had suffered a serious gunshot wound to the right side of his abdomen. Emergency workers transported him to WakeMed for surgery, police reported.

Cantrell’s friend works as an escort and advertises on the Internet.

Investigators say the woman and Thurston had earlier exchanged a series of text messages that included photos of the shooting suspect.

The two agreed to meet at a Hampton Inn, where Thurston is also employed. Investigators say Thurston “set up a room” for the woman and they had “sexual relations,” according to the search warrants.

It was around midnight when Thurston skipped out of the room without paying, police reported.

When the woman woke up later that morning, officials at the hotel expelled her. The search warrants did not indicate why.

Later that morning, the woman and Cantrell began texting Thurston about payment of her fee. Police say Thurston agreed to pay and gave her and Cantrell an address on Old Plank Road.

The two arrived and Cantrell got out of the car to speak with Thurston and retrieve his friend’s fee, but an argument ensued over the amount.

Police say Thurston pulled out a small-caliber handgun and began firing at Cantrell before fleeing toward one of the buildings at the apartment complex.

Investigators spoke with witnesses who corroborated the victim’s account of what happened.

Police used the search warrants to recover digital data from two cell phones that belong to Thurston.

Thurston remained in custody at the Wake County jail Thursday afternoon.

He is being held under a $500,000 bail, a jail spokesman reported.