BR police arrest 18-year-old man in shooting death

Baton Rouge police arrested an 18-year-old man Sunday accused of killing a St. Gabriel man outside a grocery store Friday, a shooting police said was a case of the victim simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Marvin Thomas, 18, died after he was shot several times at about 5 p.m. outside Terrace Grocery, 1457 Terrace Ave., following a fistfight with another man, whom police said tried to steal his cellphone, police spokesman Cpl. Don Coppola Jr., said.

As Thomas fought with one man, a second man, whom police said was friends with the man who started the fight, shot Thomas.

“He’s a true victim,” Coppola said of Thomas.

Armed with an arrest warrant Sunday morning, police arrested the alleged shooter, Corey Scott, 18, 1702 America St., in his home and booked him on counts of second-degree murder and illegal use of a weapon, Coppola said.

“I’m sorry for your loss,” Scott said when asked if he wanted to say anything to Thomas’ family as officers escorted him to a squad car outside the East Baton Rouge Parish Violent Crimes Unit on Independence Boulevard.

On Saturday, police arrested Harold Retana, 18, 343 S. 20th St., Baton Rouge, and booked him on counts of attempted simple robbery, simple battery and inciting a felony, Coppola said.

Retana and Scott were at the store together when Thomas arrived.

Retana told police he and Thomas began fighting after Thomas bumped into him once inside the store and once again outside the store, according to the affidavit of probable cause for Retana’s arrest.

Retana told police the fight began when he punched Thomas in the face as Thomas came out of the store. Thomas was shot several times after Retana slammed him onto the street, the affidavit said.

Retana told police he saw Scott, whom he called his friend, shoot Thomas, the affidavit said.

Surveillance footage shows Retana trying to remove something from Thomas’ left pant pocket during the fight, the affidavit said.

When police checked Thomas’ body, they found his iPhone in that pant pocket, the affidavit said.

“It’s believed that it’s just something that happened,” Coppola said of the shooting. “It wasn’t planned.”

Melvin Thomas, Marvin Thomas’ father, said Sunday that he and his son traveled to the Baton Rouge area Friday to visit a friend.

The younger Thomas asked his father if he could walk to the store, a store that Melvin Thomas had visited several times and had no qualms about letting his son walk to.

Two days after the shooting, Melvin Thomas blames himself for what happened.

“The bad thing about it is, I could see if he went to Baton Rouge with someone else or by himself, but he was with me,” Melvin Thomas said.

Marvin Thomas went to East Iberville High School before transferring to Woodlawn High School, where he graduated, his father said.

Last week, Marvin Thomas began taking classes to earn a license to work in the chemical plants where his father worked for 30 years before retiring in 2003.

“He was excited about it,” Melvin Thomas said.

Melvin Thomas described his son as a man with a good personality.

“You loved being around him,” Melvin Thomas said.

During the recent spate of nasty weather that hit the area, Melvin Thomas, his wife and his son gathered around the table for a family game of dominos.

Marvin Thomas jumped out to an early lead before his father roared back to win.

Nights like those are memories Melvin Thomas said he will cherish for the rest of his life.