Arrest made in shooting death of toddler

Photo supplied by the mother of 1 year old Londyn Samuels who was killed by an apparent gunshot to the neck.
Photo supplied by the mother of 1 year old Londyn Samuels who was killed by an apparent gunshot to the neck.

One man is in custody and another is being sought in connection with separate shooting deaths of a baby and a young girl in New Orleans, police announced Wednesday night.

Keelen Armstrong, 24, was booked with first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder in the death of 13-month-old Londyn Samuels and the shooting of her 18-year-old baby sitter last Thursday night in Central City.

Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas said investigators continue to search for a second gunman in that case, though his identity is not yet known.

Meanwhile, investigators are searching for 33-year-old Keith Ward, a man they say might have information about the person or people who killed 11-year-old Arabian Gayles on Monday night in her Carrollton-area home. Police have said that multiple shooters just after midnight fired into Arabian’s home on General Ogden Street, which at the time was occupied with several other children and three adults.

Serpas declined Wednesday night to say if Armstrong is cooperating with detectives.

Londyn was shot to death last week in the arms of her baby sitter as the two walked in the 2800 block of South Saratoga Street in Central City.

Police said two gunmen walked up behind the woman and opened fire before fleeing. Police have not said what they believe the motive might be.

Police stopped Armstrong on Wednesday morning after they clocked him doing 80 mph on Interstate 10 near Crowder Boulevard in New Orleans East, Serpas said.

Officers found he was wanted for driving on a suspended license and arrested him for that, Serpas said. About the same time, homicide Detective Robert Barrere identified Armstrong as a suspect in Londyn’s death. He was booked a short time later on the murder and attempted murder charges.

Serpas said the second person whom investigators are searching for should surrender soon.

“We have a lot more information on this individual and strongly urge him to turn himself in,” Serpas said.

Armstrong has one previous arrest in Orleans Parish in August 2007 for illegal carrying of a weapon, according to court documents. Prosecutors later dropped the charge against him.

Ward, who is wanted for questioning in the death of 11-year-old Arabian Gayles is not a suspect, Serpas said, but might have information about the person or people who opened fire on the girl’s home, killing Arabian and injuring her 11-year-old cousin and a 38-year-old man who were inside the home.

Police also have not released a motive in that shooting.

Serpas said tips have been few and far between in the case of Londyn’s death and scolded those who might have withheld any information that could have led to an arrest, while lauding the work of detectives who pieced together clues.

“We wonder how it is that very specific people ... went to sleep at night knowing how this baby died,” Serpas said. “These detectives made this case.”

Anyone with information on Ward’s whereabouts is asked to contact Crimestoppers at (504) 822-1111.