St. James deputies identify basketball game shooting suspect

A 17-year-old from Convent who dropped out of Lutcher High School in November shot a Lutcher High senior Tuesday night after a boys varsity basketball game ended at cross-parish rival St. James High, authorities said Wednesday.

Kylin Dashawn Elder, 17, 9361 Water Tower St., Convent, opened fire about 8:24 p.m. Tuesday in a large overflow parking lot as spectators were still leaving the game between St. James and Lutcher high schools, deputies said Wednesday.

St. James Parish Sheriff Willy Martin Jr. said Elder shot at Cowan Franklin, 19, of Lutcher, multiple times and hit him at least three times.

Franklin was taken by air to University Hospital in New Orleans, where he remained in stable condition Wednesday afternoon.

Elder was arrested Tuesday and was awaiting bail at St. James Parish Jail on counts of attempted second-degree murder, possession of a firearm on school property and illegal use of a dangerous weapon.

St. James High Principal Michael Kennedy said the shooting happened about 10 minutes after the end of the game, which St. James High won 80-58. The game drew about 300 people and many had already left by the time the shooting happened. Most of those who remained, including family members of players, were still in the gym.

Martin said Wednesday that the shooting did not stem from the game or tensions between the rival schools.

St. James High is on the parish’s west bank of the Mississippi River while Lutcher High is on the east bank.

Martin said Elder and Franklin are on opposite sides of a rivalry between youths in Convent and Lutcher.

Martin said the incident was ultimately a personal dispute that started with an argument earlier Tuesday.

“I was told they had a dislike for each other, and it wasn’t secret,” Martin said.

Principals at both schools said class Wednesday went forward without problems.

“We’ve taken all the necessary precautions. We talked to the kids. It’s been business as usual for the most part,” Lutcher High Principal Daryl Scoggin said.

In interviews Tuesday and Wednesday, Martin recounted the events that led to the shooting.

A deputy noticed Elder and Franklin were both at the game Tuesday. At some point, Elder was sitting in the passenger seat of a car parked at one of the overflow lot’s entrances about 300 feet from the school, Martin said.

As Franklin was leaving the gym, the two exchanged words and Elder fired at Franklin from the car as Franklin ran away, Maritn said. Franklin made it back to the gym and told the sheriff’s deputy who shot him.

“It put us on the trail real quick,” Martin said.

Deputies caught up with Elder near his home in Convent. He was picked up without incident.

Franklin had been involved in fights between Lutcher and Gramercy youths several months ago, while Elder is facing past counts of aggravated assault with a firearm and two counts of aggravated rape, the sheriff said.

The aggravated rape charges stem from incidents that allegedly occurred when he was a minor, though prosecutors have charged him as an adult.

Waiting to pick up her two sons Wednesday afternoon, Picola Williams, 38, of Vacherie, had her van parked not far from where deputies say the shooting happened less than 24 hours earlier.

“I was just shocked to hear about it,” Williams said. “Stuff like that don’t happen in Vacherie.”

Williams’ eldest son, Najee Davis, 16, a ninth-grader at St. James High, said Elder and Franklin were “beefing” over territory. He said students were not upset Wednesday about the shooting.

Lutcher High Principal Scoggin said the shooting came “out of the blue,” saying there were no arguments or fights leading up to it at his school or in the St. James High gym during the game.

“If that happened, it was not on our campus,” Scoggin said.

Scoggin said Franklin was in school Tuesday. The principal said Elder was a ninth-grader when he withdrew from school last year and is no longer in the parish school system.

St. James High has a full-time security officer but Wednesday morning the Sheriff’s Office also sent a deputy to supplement security, Principal Kennedy said.

Martin said a second person taken into custody Tuesday night was the driver of the car in which Elder was riding. The person, whose name was not released, has cooperated with investigators and is being treated as a witness.

Relatives of Elder and Franklin were not available for comment or declined to do so Wednesday.

Advocate staff reporters Ellyn Couvillion and Ryan Broussard contributed to this story.