Police have said they believe the slayings of two black men were likely racially motivated and are holding a white suspect in the case.
Suspect Kenneth James Gleason, 23, is being held on drug charges in Baton Rouge, Louisiana as police gather evidence in the shootings. Gleason has not yet been charged in the murders.
Gleason was linked to the two murders through shell casings from the shootings, and his car matches a description of the suspect vehicle, according to Baton Rouge Police Sergeant L’Jean McKneely.
‘There is a strong possibility that it could be racially motivated,’ he said.
The shootings happened about five miles from each other earlier this week.
The first occurred Tuesday when 59-year-old Bruce Cofield, who was homeless, was shot dead.
The second happened Thursday when 49-year-old Donald Smart was gunned down walking to work as a dishwasher at a cafe popular with Louisiana State University students, McKneely said.
Police said on Friday that they believed the same gun was linked to both murders.
Mckneely said in both shootings the suspect fired from his car, then walked up to the victims as they were lying on the ground and fired again multiple times.
He says police haven’t found any relationship between Gleason and the victims.
A police description of a possible suspect leaked to the press on Friday, describing a white male of medium build with a ‘military’ haircut and a tactical vest.
It’s unclear what initially led investigators to suspect Gleason in the shootings.
Detectives searched Gleason’s home on Saturday and found less than a gram of marijuana and vials of testosterone enanthate in his bedroom, according a police document.
After Gleason was read his Miranda rights, he claimed ownership of the drugs and said he did not have a prescription for the testosterone, the document said.
McKneely, the police spokesman, said police had collected other circumstantial evidence but he wouldn’t say what it was.
It wasn’t immediately clear if Gleason had an attorney or when his first court appearance would be.
Mary Smart, Donald Smart’s aunt, said on Sunday that she could not understand what had happened to lead to his death.
She says her nephew was always smiling and hugging everybody, and had a son and two daughters.
She declined to comment on police allegations that her nephew might have been shot because of the color of his skin.
Police have not said what led them to believe the shootings were racially motivated.
SOURCE: Daily Mail, Keith Griffith; The Associated Press