Baton Rouge killings ‘could possibly be racially motivated,’ police say

The killings of two black men in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, last week “could possibly be racially motivated” but police are “still looking at other motives,” Baton Rouge Police spokesman Sgt. L’Jean McNeely told ABC News Sunday.

Bruce Cofield, 59, and Donald Smart, 49, were both shot and killed within five miles of each other last week. In the shootings, the suspect first fired from his car and then exited the vehicle to shoot the victims while they were on the ground, according to police.

“Witness accounts in certain circumstances and ballistic analyzation of the homicides helped link the two,” Sgt. Don Coppola, a public information officer with the Baton Rouge Police Department, told ABC News Monday.

Police have named Kenneth Gleason, 23, as a “person of interest” in the investigation. “Gleason was occupying a vehicle that matched the description” of the one seen in the area of the killings, Coppola said.

On Sunday, Gleason was released from jail after being booked on two drug charges. Gleason has not been charged in relation to the killings.

“This investigation is ongoing, Gleason is still a person of interest, and through the investigation, if it is learned that there is any other individual or individuals who could be other persons of interest, investigators will look into them as well,” Coppola said.

Police had questioned Gleason for many hours and searched his home and his vehicle, but didn’t have enough evidence to charge him in the murders, McNeely said.

But law enforcement found schedule 1 narcotics – marijuana – and schedule 3 narcotics, which were “some kind of human growth hormone” at Gleason’s house on Saturday, Coppola said, and Gleason was arrested.

Gleason was released Sunday on bond, which had been set at $3,500, but has “not been cleared” in the investigation into the two shootings, police said.

Neither Gleason nor his family responded to ABC News’ request for comment.

Coppola said he was not aware if Gleason had any previous criminal record, and a background check showed only a traffic violation that had been dismissed by the court from earlier this year. Police declined to say whether there are other persons of interest in the case, citing the ongoing investigation.

“Being that the investigation is ongoing, investigators are diligently working to have these homicides solved,” Coppola said.

Police said Cofield, who was homeless, was killed on Tuesday. Smart was shot on Thursday while…

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