Two killed in shooting on Gardere

A late-night shooting Sunday left residents of a Gardere Lane apartment complex wondering why two neighbors, described as hard-working men and good people, were gunned down in an area where anti-violence efforts have recently intensified.

“Those two people didn’t bother anybody,” Mike McGuffey, 17, said of his neighbors Orok Ironbar Jr., 32, and Russell Celestine, 31, who were shot inside Ironbar’s apartment at 2152 Gardere Lane. “They were two good people.”

East Baton Rouge Parish sheriff’s deputies found the two men shot in the apartment between Ned and Christian Paul avenues, Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Casey Rayborn Hicks said. Ironbar’s roommate called deputies after arriving home to find the two men shot.

Ironbar was dead by the time deputies arrived and Celestine, 2142 Gardere Lane, died of his injuries later at a hospital, Hicks said.

Monday afternoon, workers boarded up the windows in Ironbar’s apartment where blood stained the walls and floor.

McGuffey said Ironbar delivered chemicals and Celestine worked as a mechanic, though he was not sure where he worked.

Celestine loved to play video games, especially sports games, and his wife recently gave birth to a baby girl, McGuffey said.

The shooting was the topic of conversation in that part of Gardere on Monday as some people were shaken that the shooting occurred so close to their homes and families.

Torie Jackson, 29, said her husband knew Celestine and that he was a nice, happy guy who watched her children from time to time when she asked.

“I don’t understand what happened,” Jackson said Monday afternoon, shaking her head. “You never know when you’re called to leave this Earth.”

Deputies drove to the area near 2142 Gardere around 10 p.m. after getting a call of shots fired, but left after not finding any evidence of a shooting and neighbors saying they did not hear anything, Hicks said. The original call did not mention the apartments at 2152 Gardere as the place where the shots were fired.

Deputies returned at midnight when Ironbar’s roommate called, Hicks said.

Neighbors interviewed at that time also said they did not hear anything.

Orok Ironbar Sr., 64, said in a phone conversation from New York, that his oldest son’s death — Orok Ironbar Jr., was one of four — has left him very emotional as he struggles to understand why his son was killed.

“He was a very nice man, a very nice son, very respectful,” Ironbar said.

The elder Ironbar said he moved to the U.S. from Nigeria when his son was 12.

About five or six years ago, the junior Ironbar told his father he needed a change of scenery and moved to Baton Rouge.

Orok Ironbar Sr. said his son had two sons, Carter Ironbar, 3, and David Ironbar, 4.

Sunday’s double homicide comes as community groups such as the Gardere Initiative and the Youth Peace Olympic are trying to stop the violence in the Gardere neighborhoods.

Reginald Brown, of the Gardere Initiative, a nonprofit community-run organization aimed at reducing violence in the Gardere area, said the double homicide is a reminder that more work needs to be done.

“To me it is simply an indication that we need to continue what we’re doing,” he said. “I think what we’re doing and the path that we’re on is valuable and is true, and it is simply unfortunate that we can’t reach every single human being that has a bad thought in their mind before they act on that bad thought.”

Autopsies for the two victims are scheduled for Wednesday.

Anyone with information on the double homicide is asked to contact the Sheriff’s Office at (225) 389-5000 or Crime Stoppers at (225) 344-7867.