BR officials concerned about recent spate of fatal shootings

BR has registered five shooting deaths in six days

April Johnson was working at the Greyhound Bus Station ticket counter on Florida Street on Sunday night when a man ran to the door, pleading for someone to help.

Charles Vincent had just been shot.

When Johnson asked passengers waiting at the station for help, a nurse jumped up and ran with her across the street, where the 59-year-old homeless man was struggling for life.

“I saw life leave his eyes,” Johnson, 23, said. “It’s been haunting me a lot.”

Vincent’s killing marks the fifth deadly shooting inside city limits in six days, a development District Attorney Hillar Moore III calls frustrating.

“We’re pretty much as surprised as anyone else,” Moore said when asked about the spate of fatal shootings.

Moore said so far, investigators have found no connections in the five slayings.

“Hopefully, it’s not a sign that things are picking up,” Moore said, alluding to the progress law enforcement officials have made with the Baton Rouge Area Violence Elimination Project since September 2012 at lowering the number of homicides in Baton Rouge.

According to statistics compiled by The Advocate, there have been 41 homicides so far this year, slightly ahead of 2013 when the 41st homicide occurred on July 31. But that is far behind 2012 when the 41st homicide of that year’s 83 slayings occurred on June 9.

The latest spate of bloodshed began Wednesday night when officers found Major Brown’s body shot multiple times in the front yard of the Cate Avenue home he shared with his family.

Brown, 29, had just run downstairs, after getting a cigarette lighter for someone who knocked on the door, when family members heard shots ring out.

Police have released no motive in the slaying, which remains unsolved.

The next day, Travis Jones, 22, 1860 Boulevard de Province, was shot to death in the 200 block of South 17th Street.

Jones died at the scene.

Police have released no motive or suspects in that case, which also remains unsolved.

Then early Saturday, police found Javontia Davis, 24, 2663 Wenonah St., shot to death not far from his house.

Officers working a traffic detail near 2600 Plank Road heard gunshots near Wenonah about 2 a.m. and found Davis lying in the road.

Police have issued an arrest warrant in the Davis slaying for Tajh Harris, 21, 3434 Jackson Ave., Baton Rouge, for second-degree murder and illegal use of a weapon. Harris is known to frequent the Tigerland area and may be driving an older model tan or brown Toyota Camry.

Police suspect an argument among Harris, Davis and several others led to the shooting, though they are unsure what the group argued about.

The shooting death of Vincent, the homeless man found across from the Greyhound bus station, also remains unsolved. Police have not released any details, other than to say he was not pronounced dead at the scene, but at the hospital where paramedics transported him.

In addition to Vincent’s killing, police are also investigating the shooting of La-Ross Cortez Davis, who was found by firefighters clearing his home at 2632 Eaton St. shortly after 6:30 a.m. Monday, following a fire.

Davis, 35, was shot in the head, a coroner’s official said.

Police have released little information about that death.

“Investigators are working continuously to solve these crimes along with making every tip a priority,” Cpl. Don Coppola Jr., a police spokesman, said Monday afternoon.

He asked that anyone with information on the homicides call the Violent Crimes Unit at (225) 389-4869 or Crime Stoppers at (225) 344-7867.

Follow Ryan Broussard on Twitter @ryanmbroussard.