The Baton Rouge Police believes that the killings of two black men in the city last week were racially motivated. The suspect of these fatal shootings is Kenneth Gleason, a 23-year-old white man. He was arrested on drug charges, and there is not enough evidence to charge him with murder yet.

According to the police, the way both men were killed was very similar. Apparently, they were both shot from a car and then their assassin came closer to shoot them multiple times. The men who died were a 59-year-old who lived on the streets and a 49-year-old man who was killed on his way to his workplace.

Kenneth Gleason. Image Credit: East Baton Rouge Sheriff's Office / Associated Press
Kenneth Gleason. Image Credit: East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office / Associated Press

“There is a strong possibility that it could be racially motivated,” Baton Rouge Police Sgt. L’Jean McKneely told the AP.

Racial hate is still alive in Louisiana

It’s been decades since Martin Luther King Jr. gave his “I have a dream” speech, and though laws and habits have changed over the years, there are still many sprouts of hate still emerging in the country. One of the latest occurred in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where two men appeared to have lost their lives only because their skin was dark.

The Baton Rouge police continue to investigate the case; however, they considered them to be racially-motivated murders. They have one suspect, but there is not enough evidence to charge him.

The first killing occurred on Tuesday night on the 3400 block of Florida Boulevard. The victim was Bruce Cofield, a 59-year-old homeless man. He received multiple shots. At first, it appeared to be a random crime, but it all changed two days after that when another black man was killed.

The second victim was Donald Smart, a 49-year-old father of three. He left his house and was killed when he was walking to the restaurant where he worked. It happened on Alaska Street. Smart was married. He was a well-known employee at Louie’s Cafe, a busy 24-hour diner near LSU’s campus. He worked there for about 20 years.

According to the police bulletin, both men were killed when the gunman approached them wearing dark clothes, a military-style haircut and possibly a tactical vest. He shot first from a red sedan – which was described in the police bulletin as a “small, older sedan with shiny rims”- using a 9-mm handgun. He was the one driving. Then he exited the car came to the victims and shot them repeatedly.

The police linked the cases also because of the ballistic tests of both crimes. As well, it is important to note that these murders took place only 5-miles away from each other. That is how the manhunt began.

Gleason matched the description of the suspect

It is not yet clear how Kenneth Gleason became a suspect of these hate-motivated murders. The 23-year-old white man matches the description of the murderer since his car is similar to the one used to commit the crimes and shell casings linked to the crimes were found in Gleason’s vehicle too. Nonetheless, there is not enough evidence to incriminate him for the killings, mainly because of the lack details of the murders. Gleason is currently held by the police but on drug charges.

“This is our top priority,” interim Baton Rouge Police Chief Jonny Dunnam said Friday. “We have tons of officers” looking for the shooter.

The police department is focused on this case, and it is also reviewing previous cases of homicides that might also be linked to these, which could also be racially motivated.

Both killings occurred late at night. The first apparently took place between 10:30 p.m. and 11:15 p.m. According to the neighbors, Cofield didn’t bother anyone despite being a homeless person. Witnesses said that Cofield received about 12 shots last Tuesday, six on a row then a pause, and then six more.

Smart was found dead on the street about half-a-mile away from his work. The restaurant’s general manager, Fred Simonson, broke in tears as he talked about his employee during an interview.

“What Donald means to me as a person and Louie’s as an institution is not quantifiable — it’s not measurable,” Simonson said. “We’re not all perfect but, damn it, if this guy wasn’t close. … I will love that man until the day I die.”

The diner, closed on Friday night so staff members could mourn. His killing became the 73rd homicide this year in East Baton Rouge Parish.

The police asked people who have relevant information about the case to contact the Violent Crimes Unit at (225) 389-4869 or Crime Stoppers at (225) 344-7867.

Source: Huffington Post