Fatal Baton Rouge Shootings Investigated As Racially Motivated: Police

Nina Golgowski
Kenneth Gleason, 23, is reportedly being eyed as a person of interest in last week's fatal shootings of two men.

A 23-year-old Louisiana man is reportedly being held as a person of interest in the separate slayings of two black men who police say were gunned down last week in potentially racially motivated attacks.

Kenneth Gleason, who is white, was jailed Sunday on unrelated drug charges, The Associated Press reported. Authorities say they continue to investigate his potential connection to the killings.

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

A manhunt was launched shortly after Donald Smart, 49, was found gunned down in a roadway around 11 p.m. Thursday, police said. Smart was shot multiple times while walking to work, The Advocate reported.

Just two days earlier, authorities had found a similar scene by a crosswalk roughly 5 miles away. Bruce Cofield, 59, was found lying dead in the roadway, also from apparent gunshot wounds, police said.

A witness told The Advocate that she heard what sounded like a dozen shots being fired Tuesday during the attack that killed Cofield. The outlet reported that Cofield appeared to have been homeless.

McKneely said Gleason’s vehicle fit the description of one police were looking for and that shell casings collected at the scene of both shootings matched each other. Authorities reportedly have collected additional evidence, but McKneely declined to say what it was.

A search of Gleason’s home on Saturday yielded less than a gram of marijuana, as well as human growth hormones for which Gleason did not have a prescription, the Advocate reported, citing an arrest report. As of Sunday afternoon, a bond hearing reportedly hadn’t been set for Gleason. 

Police in Baton Rouge did not immediately return HuffPost requests for comment. 

  • This article originally appeared on HuffPost.