New Orleans — When news broke Tuesday night that murder suspect Larry “Sly” Haynes, 28, had been arrested after weeks of searching, a small celebration broke out on the same block where he is accused of shooting four people in December.
Andrea Roberts, a friend of the woman Haynes is accused of killing, said she and her family were ecstatic to hear about Haynes’ arrest. Police had been searching for Haynes since Dec. 1, and Roberts said she had grown worried that he might be on the run for years.
When she learned from news reports that he was in custody, she said it was great news.
“We were shouting up in here last night,” Roberts recalled, sitting on the steps of the home where the shootings occurred. “We were celebrating.”
Haynes was finally caught at an ex-girlfriend’s home in Kentwood early Tuesday morning after authorities followed up on a Crimestoppers tip about his location, according to police. Police had long suspected Haynes was receiving help from someone, because they found evidence that he was wounded during the shooting on South Roman Street.
Haynes is accused of killing Tiara Reynolds, 26, and shooting three other people after an early morning argument with his girlfriend in the neighborhood. Various accounts of the incident have described a chaotic scene that included chairs being flung from balconies and Haynes calmly pumping bullets into the victim.
Roberts, who witnessed the shooting, said some of the information is wrong, including the news that Haynes killed Reynolds in front of her children. But what the accounts got right was the brutal and shocking nature of the crime.
“He shot like three people in a matter of seconds,” Roberts said.
She said that she and her boyfriend returned home from a movie that night to find Haynes outside with several of their neighbors and friends. There was not a massive argument as had been reported, she said, but rather several smaller, animated discussions.
Haynes was enraged because he had been fighting with his girlfriend, whom he also shot, police said. Roberts said the couple had a volatile relationship, and Haynes had a history of beating the woman.
Police show previous arrests for Haynes for first-degree murder and domestic violence among several other charges. Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas referenced Haynes’ arrest history Tuesday, saying that it was amazing he was still a free man.
“He had no business walking the streets last month,” Serpas said in a statement where he praised the police work that led to Haynes’ capture. “His crime was heinous.”
Roberts said Haynes began flinging chairs and other objects from a second-floor balcony onto a van that was parked in a driveway at the home. That van, which remained in the driveway the day after the shooting, sustained severe damage including a broken windshield and several broken windows.
Court records say that several people tried to calm Haynes down, but it was impossible. Roberts noted that Haynes, and most of the people outside, had been drinking heavily, and she said she’d never seen Haynes that intoxicated.
She said that aside from beating his girlfriend, Haynes was a fairly mellow person although a bit strange. He seemed very intelligent, she said, but sometimes went on extended diatribes.
Media reports said that Haynes worked as a janitor at Lusher Charter School’s Fortier Street campus before the shooting.
At some point, court records say, Haynes pulled a .38-caliber handgun from his waistband and began pointing it at people. One man tried to get him to put the gun down, even going so far as to walk up to Haynes while he had the weapon aimed at him. The records say Haynes tried to fire one shot, but the gun jammed. Haynes then ejected two bullets from the gun and opened fire, court records state.
Roberts said Reynolds was one of his first targets, and it was shocking because he and Reynolds had a good relationship. Reynolds was beloved by most people in the neighborhood, she said. Several of Reynolds’ family members live on the block as well.
Roberts described Reynolds as one of the kindest and gentlest people she knew.
A man who stood outside as Roberts discussed the shooting broke into a wide smile when Reynolds’ name came up.
“She was a giving person. She had a smile that could light up a neighborhood, not just a room,” Roberts said. “She would give you the shirt off her back.”
Reynolds’ sister declined to discuss the shooting or her sibling, citing the freshness of the wound. A cousin of Reynolds also did not return calls.
But despite their past relationship, police said that Haynes left Reynolds dead on the sidewalk and then shot a man in the head and another man in the arm.
Roberts said it was unbelievable how calm he was when he started shooting. He just walked up to people and blasted them, she said.
After he shot the people outside, Roberts said, he went inside and shot his girlfriend in front of several children. Haynes then fled the scene, leaping several fences, headed toward Washington Avenue, according to court records. Police were able to track his path because he apparently had been injured in the confrontation and left a blood trail.
Police were able to quickly develop Haynes as a suspect because he left behind a plethora of witnesses, many of whom had known him for years, according to court records. Haynes has been booked with first-degree murder and three counts of attempted first degree murder. Roberts said what’s so disturbing about the crime is that the person who least deserved to be hurt was killed.
“It’s a shame,” she said.