Baton Rouge, LA- 23 year old Kenneth Gleason was taken into custody Tuesday after being arrested twice for lesser charges over the previous few days. He was being held for stealing a copy of the book “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” when he was hit with two murder charges after two separate shootings that left 2 black men dead.
The shootings happened about five miles from each other. The first occurred Tuesday night when 59-year-old Bruce Cofield, who was homeless, was shot to death. The second happened Thursday night when 49-year-old Donald Smart was gunned down while walking to work at a cafe popular with Louisiana State University students. Smart is survived by an aunt, a son, and two daughters.
Police have stated that the slayings of Cofield and Smart were racially motivated. In each shooting, police said, the suspect fired from his car then walked up to the victims as they were lying on the ground and fired again multiple times. Neither victim had any prior relationship with Gleason according to Baton Rouge Sgt. L’Jean McKneely.
Authorities said during a press conference that they believe Gleason would have killed again if he was not apprehended. Investigators also recovered a copy of an Adolf Hitler speech from Gleason’s home.
Mckneely said 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 authorities had collected other circumstantial evidence but he wouldn’t say what it was.
District attorney Hillar Moore said his office could seek the death penalty. “It appears to be cold, calculated, planned [against] people who were unarmed and defenseless,” he said. “We don’t need to prove motive. There are a lot of things that are unanswered.”