White man indicted on murder charges in black men’s killings
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — A Louisiana grand jury indicted a white man on murder charges Thursday in the shooting deaths of two black men, attacks that police have said may have been racially motivated.
Kenneth Gleason, 23, is charged with first-degree murder and second-degree murder in the separate Baton Rouge shootings that killed 49-year-old Donald Smart and 59-year-old Bruce Cofield in September.
Prosecutors haven’t decided whether to seek the death penalty against Gleason.
Authorities have said surveillance footage and DNA link Gleason to the crimes. In each case, police said, the killer opened fire from his car, then walked up to the victim as he lay on the ground and fired again repeatedly.
The first killing occurred Sept. 12, when Cofield, who was homeless, was gunned down on a street corner. The second took place Sept. 14, when Smart was shot on his way to his dishwashing job at a cafe popular with Louisiana State University students.
Gleason also was indicted on two counts of attempted second-degree murder for allegedly firing gunshots into the home of a black family that lives down the street from his parents’ house. Nobody was injured in that shooting, which occurred just after midnight on Sept. 10.
Authorities said ballistics tests determined that the same gun was used in all three shootings. They also said DNA found on one of the shell casings matched genetic material on a swab they took from Gleason.
A law enforcement official told The Associated Press in September that authorities found a handwritten copy of an Adolf Hitler speech at the home Gleason shared with his parents. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation was ongoing.