N.O. police make arrests in murder of infant, father killed near CCC

Father was target in shooting that also killed infant son

Kevin Thomas and Isaac Pierre had been on the run for weeks, first to save their lives and later to maintain their freedom.

But on Thursday night, not too far from where they had been hiding in Gentilly, police found the men they suspect are responsible for killing 7-month-old Deshawn Kinard and 25-year-old Deshawn Butler, the infant’s father and the intended target of a shower of bullets rained on their car during a drive-by shooting last month in Algiers.

Thomas and Pierre remained in jail Friday, each on two counts of first-degree murder, with no bond set.

Police have said the shooting was born of a simmering feud between rival Algiers gangs: the Fischer Fools, of which Butler was a member, and Hot Blocks. While police have declined to discuss why Butler was targeted, their application for arrest warrants for the two men indicates Butler’s slaying was another example of street justice, since he reportedly had fired at the suspects hours before they allegedly killed him.

Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas said after the shooting that it was not a random act of violence. He reiterated the statement on Friday when he spoke to reporters about the arrests.

“There is no doubt in out minds (Butler) knew his assailants, and there is no doubt in our minds he may have been responsible for serious injuries to other persons in the community,” Serpas said. “That results in what we see far too often, which is men who know each other taking the ultimate acts of violence against each other. Sadly, many times they don’t care who is around them when that happens.”

Butler and his son were killed about 9 p.m. Nov. 13 on Gen. de Gaulle Drive. Amy Kinard, who was Butler’s girlfriend, was driving when the shooting happened.

Kinard said Butler noticed an SUV or van speeding up behind her Honda and told her to drive faster. Moments later she heard a gunshot and her back windshield shattered.

The gunshots continued, one after another, shattering more windows.

Kinard blew through a red light on Gen. de Gaulle and drove onto the foot of the Crescent City Connection.

The whole time, she said, she was yelling at Butler, asking him if their child was OK.

She pulled over just past the toll booth, hopped out of her car and found Butler’s lifeless body slumped over the infant.

Deshawn Kinard still had a pulse and appeared to be breathing when she took him out of the car, his mother has said. A knit cap the boy wore on his head that night to ward off the cold apparently hid the fatal gunshot wound that claimed his life a short time later at Interim LSU Public Hospital.

Serpas said a day after the drive-by shooting that investigators believed Butler was a member of the Fischer Fools, named for the former public housing development, who were feuding with the Hot Blocks.

Both gangs are based in Algiers and are among 40 recently targeted by New Orleans police, who believe the groups are responsible for most of the violence on the city’s streets.

Butler’s father, Terry Smith, said his son ran with the wrong crowd and that whoever was responsible for the double slaying likely was trying to resolve some sort of ongoing feud.

Someone had previously opened fire on Butler on July 4 at a gas station not far from where he and his child were ultimately killed.

According to the arrest-warrant application, Butler himself had shot at Thomas, 23, and Pierre, 20, as well as two other men the same day he was killed. Sources told police the other men were Kerry Pierre, 22, Isaac Pierre’s older brother, and Verdell Lewis, 21.

Serpas said the suspects used a stolen van to commit the murder. Detectives later found it burned a short distance away from where the shooting happened.

After the shooting, the four men hid at Thomas’ sister’s home in the 6000 block of Lafaye Street in Gentilly, according to court documents.

A week after Butler and his baby were killed, Kerry Pierre and Lewis were shot inside the home. Lewis died on the scene; Kerry Pierre died a short time later at the hospital. Detective Robert Barrere wrote in his application for arrest warrants for Thomas and Isaac Pierre that the Lafaye Street shooting was unrelated to the earlier drive-by shooting.

Serpas said Friday that detectives are close to solving the Lafaye Street killings and that suspects have been identified, though he declined to name them.

Thomas and Isaac Pierre were arrested after they were pulled over about 8:40 p.m. in the 5100 block of Franklin Avenue by detectives who had been observing the house on Lafaye Street. The NOPD and other agencies then executed a search of the home and found a “small arsenal” of guns, including assault rifles and handguns, inside. Officers also found weapons in the car the men were in, Serpas said.

Additional arrests in the case are likely, NOPD spokeswoman Remi Braden said Thursday night.

“These cases are live, they evolve,” Serpas said. “They have things that occur at the drop of a hat you don’t expect.”

Neither Butler’s father nor Deshawn Kinard’s mother said they know the suspects, neither of whom has any previous arrests for violent crimes.

“We’re so blessed they got them,” Amy Kinard said Friday morning. “It does not bring any closure, but it’s a very good relief.”

Smith said he also was relieved to hear about the arrests.

“It’s not going to bring them back, but I think justice has been served,” he said.