An Adolf Hitler speech has been found at the Louisiana home of a white man suspected of murdering two black men.
Kenneth Gleason is charged with first-degree murder for shooting dead Bruce Cofield, 59, who was homeless, and dishwasher Donald Smart, 49, last week, cops said.
In both shootings, the suspect fired from his car, walked up to the victims as they were lying on the ground and fired again multiple times, a police report states.
Kenneth Gleason (left, being escorted by police to a waiting police car in Baton Rouge Tuesday and right, in his mugshot) will be charged with first-degree murder for shooting dead two black men last week, cops said
‘I feel confident that this killer would have killed again,’ interim Police Chief Jonny Dunnam said.
Authorities found a copy of the Hitler speech during a search of Gleason’s home over the weekend, according to the law enforcement official who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the investigation was ongoing.
Asked whether police suspect race was a motive for the shootings, Sgt. L’Jean McKneely said: ‘We’re not completely closed off to that. We’re looking at all possibilities at this time, so we’re not going to just pinpoint that.’
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.’
Gleason murdered Bruce Cofield, (left) 59, who was homeless, and dishwasher Donald Smart (right) 49
The 23-year-old is also accused of opening fire on a black family.
No one was injured when Gleason fired multiple times into the home of the family in his neighborhood, authorities said. It’s not clear if Gleason knew the family.
In the other shootings, Gleason fired from his car then walked up to the victims as they were lying on the ground and fired again multiple times, police said. Neither victim had any prior relationship with Gleason.
The first fatal shooting occurred Sept.ember 12 when 59-year-old Cofield was shot to death.
The second happened last Thursday night when 49-year-old Smart was gunned down while walking to his job as a dishwasher at a cafe popular with Louisiana State University students.
The attacks came at a time when Louisiana’s capital already was in the grips of a surge in violence. The number of homicides in East Baton Rouge Parish has already surpassed last year’s total of 62, The Advocate newspaper reported earlier this month.
Kenneth James Gleason is escorted by police to a waiting police car in Baton Rouge, La., Tuesday,
Gleason is to be charged with two counts of first degree murder and other charges, for three shootings in the Baton Rouge area throughout the past week
Authorities found a copy of the Hitler speech during a search of Gleason’s home over the weekend, according to the law enforcement official who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the investigation was ongoing
‘Baton Rouge has been through a lot of turmoil in the last year. Has there not been a swift conclusion to this case, I feel confident that this killer probably would have killed again,’ the police chief said. ‘He could have potentially created a tear in the fabric that holds this community together.’
Racial tensions roiled the city in the summer of 2016 when a black man was shot to death by white police officers outside of a convenience store. About two weeks later, a black gunman targeted police in an ambush, killing three officers and wounding three others before he was shot to death.
The city of about 229,000 is about 55 percent black and 40 percent white.
Gleason didn’t appear to have any active social media profiles. A spokesman at Louisiana State University said a student by that name attended the university from the fall of 2013 to the fall of 2014 before withdrawing. He had transferred to LSU from Baton Rouge Community College.
During the search of Gleason’s home, authorities also found 9 grams of marijuana and vials of human growth hormone, according to a police document.
Mary Smart, Smart’s aunt, said she was still dealing with the shock of her nephew’s death and couldn’t understand what had happened.
‘I’m feeling down and depressed. My nephew, I love him, and he was on his way to work, and that makes it so sad,’ she said in a telephone interview Sunday. ‘He was always smiling and hugging everybody. A lot of people knew him.’
Smart had a son and two daughters, she said.
Interim Baton Rouge police chief Jonny Dunnam speaks at a news conference in Baton Rouge, La., Tuesday, after Kenneth James Gleason was charged
Baton Rouge Mayor Sharon Weston Broome speaks at a news conference in Baton Rouge, Tuesday
She declined to comment on police allegations that her nephew might have been shot because of the color of his skin.
‘I cannot say,’ she said. ‘Only God knows.’
It wasn’t immediately clear whether Gleason had an attorney or when his first court appearance would be. No one answered the door at his house in a quiet neighborhood of mostly ranch-style homes with well-kept lawns about 10 miles from the shootings.
‘He looks like any clean-cut American kid,’ said neighbor Nancy Reynolds, who didn’t know Gleason or his family. She said it was ‘hard to believe this sort of thing is still happening.’
East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore wouldn’t comment on what led investigators to Gleason.
Detectives searched Gleason’s home on Saturday and found less than a gram of marijuana, along with vials of human growth hormone, in his bedroom, according to a police document. After Gleason was read his Miranda rights, he claimed ownership of the drugs, the document said.
Smart consistently showed up for his overnight shift as a dishwasher at Louie’s Cafe in a spotless white T-shirt and bright white Nike tennis shoes, The Advocate newspaper of Baton Rouge reported.
‘I’ve seen 26 years of folks washing dishes in a busy diner, and this guy is untouchable,’ Louie’s general manager, Fred Simonson, was quoted as saying. ‘When you have an employee like Donald, he’s the type of person who’s going to make the person next to him better.’