Kenneth Gleason has been identified as a person of interest in shootings of two black men in Baton Rouge. The two deaths have shocked the town and surrounding areas proving once again that racial fault lines still run deep, very deep indeed.
Authorities suggest that the 23-year old man was arrested Sunday on unrelated drug charges when the police search warrant at his home.
Gleason is reportedly thought to be a suspect in two deaths, that of 59-year old Bruce Cofield and 49-year old Donald Smart. Both the people were reportedly shot dead last week in separate incidents.
While right now the suspect is being held on charges of drug possession, but he has been questioned in connection to both killings. Nonetheless, till now the investigators don’t seem to have enough evidence to charge him with murder, Baton Rouge Police Sergeant L’Jean McKneely said.
Baton Rouge Sgt. L’Jean McKneely says that they have evidence to nail him and goes on to add that shell casings from the shootings linked the two slayings and a car belonging to Gleason fit the description of the vehicle police were looking for. He said police had collected other circumstantial evidence but he wouldn’t say what it was.
He went on to add, “There is a strong possibility that it could be racially motivated”.
Both the shootings and the deaths happened two days and five miles apart. The first shooting reportedly took place Tuesday when 59-year-old Bruce Cofield, homeless man was shot dead. The other shooting took place merely two days later when 49-year-old Donald Smart was gunned down walking to work on Thursday.
Reports suggest that the police sleuths searched Gleason’s home extensively on Saturday and found less than a gram of marijuana and vials of human growth hormone in his bedroom.
While talking of the racial motivation of the killings, the police officer said “There is a strong possibility that it could be racially motivated,” but did not go into specifics about why investigators believe that could be the case.
For the last few days there were reports circulating that the police were looking for a white male with a “military style haircut” possibly wearing a tactical vest in connection to the two random fatal shootings. The Advocate newspaper said that there was an “all-out hunt” underway for the shooter and released the description of the possible gunman as being a “white male of medium build with a military style haircut who may be wearing a tactical vest.”
While talking about the investigation Police Chief Johnny Dunnam said in a radio interview “This is an on going investigation, the details of which we don’t want to get into. It’s kind of irresponsible that The Advocate posted details that we asked that they would not, kind of details in emails between officers in the field…A lot of that information is still preliminary. We aren’t 100% sure on a lot of that information, but it was reported that way.”
According to The Rouge Collection, Dunnam was asked on the Talk 107.3 radio show if he had a message for black residents of the city, and he responded, “If you see anything that suspicious make sure you report it. Call crime stoppers or the homicide. Both killings happened at a certain time of night. They need to be aware of their surrounding and any suspicious people that might pull up and talk to them. Right now it’s still preliminary and we’ve got every man and woman out there looking and searching for this individual.”