Suspect Held After 'Racially Motivated' Louisiana Murders

2 black men were shot dead in separate incidents
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 18, 2017 3:37 AM CDT
Suspect Held After 'Racially Motivated' Louisiana Murders
Kenneth Gleason is shown in this booking photo provided by the East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office.   (East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office, via the AP)

Police in Louisiana suspect that a man taken into custody Saturday is the attacker who killed two black men in apparently random, possibly racially motivated murders. Police say Kenneth Gleason, 23, has been charged only with drug offenses for now because they don't have enough evidence for a murder charge, but he remains a person of interest in the investigation, the Advocate reports. On Tuesday last week, 59-year-old homeless man Bruce Cofield was shot dead in Baton Rouge by a gunman who fired from his car, then exited his vehicle to walk up to him and shoot him several more times, police say. In an almost identical killing Thursday, 49-year-old Donald Smart was shot dead while walking to work.

The killings took place about 5 miles apart, and police say they haven't uncovered any connection between the victims. After police searched the home where Gleason lived with his parents and found marijuana and human growth hormone he didn't have prescriptions for, he was charged with drug offenses unrelated to the murders. Investigators say Gleason's car fit the description of the vehicle police are seeking and that there's other circumstantial evidence they're not disclosing at this point. One of Gleason's cousins tells the AP that there is "no way" Gleason is the killer. He says his cousin has black friends—and doesn't like guns. (Read more Louisiana stories.)

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