1 dead, 1 wounded in ‘death trap’

Gunmen surround, shoot up BR home

As men positioned themselves outside a North 35th Street home Wednesday night, fearful neighbors hid and watched.

Gunfire erupted outside the home at least once before, neighbors said, and shortly before midnight, it happened again.

A group of armed men posted outside the blue, wood panel home in the 1400 block of North 35th Street opened fire about 11:45 p.m., witnesses said, littering the home’s wood-panel façade with bullets.

Travis Mitchell, 25, a resident of the home, died at the scene from gunshot wounds to the face and upper torso, and a 38-year-old woman was taken to a hospital with nonlife-threatening injuries, said Cpl. Don Coppola Jr., a Baton Rouge police spokesman.

“The motive and details surrounding this shooting are still being investigated,” Coppola said.

The shooting took place sometime after a white Chevrolet Impala sped up and down the street, apparently staking out the home near North Acadian Thruway East and Gus Young Avenue, said Kim Salsberry, who lives nearby.

Glass shards from car windows shattered by gunfire lay scattered at the shooting scene Thursday afternoon.

A white dog that looked like a pit bull puppy chewed on a piece of plastic, panting near the porch of the bullet-riddled residence.

No one responded to several knocks on the front door of the home, which neighbors described as a hotbed for trouble.

“This is a death trap,” said Lottie Morgan, who lives nearby, pointing at the blue house visibly damaged by the shooting.

Both Salsberry and Morgan know the neighborhood well, and both said Wednesday’s shooting was not the first time gunfire erupted in front of the home.

Salsberry recalled at least two previous shootings, although she wasn’t sure whether either resulted in any injuries.

On other occasions, she has seen street fights in front of the home, some which ended up being filmed and posted to YouTube, she said.

“Everybody knows this is a troubled house,” Salsberry said.

Both women said they wanted the home’s renter evicted because of the danger posed to them by living near the house.

Bobbie Harris, manager of Restoration Baton Rouge, which manages leases for more than 175 Baton Rouge-area homes, including the home where the shooting happened, said Thursday she has never had a problem with the home’s renter.

“I think somebody shot at the house before,” Harris said, stressing she never independently confirmed the report.

She also described the home’s renter as a quiet woman who has lived there for several years.

“She paid her rent on time,” Harris said.

Harris said she will gather information about the shooting and send it to the property owner, Sun Belt Management Co., of Alabama. Together the companies will conduct their own investigation into the shooting, Harris said.

Reached by phone Thursday, Travis Mitchell’s brother, William Mitchell, said the family wasn’t ready to comment.

Salsberry, one of Mitchell’s neighbors, said she doesn’t believe he was the intended target in the shooting. “He was a good guy,” Salsberry said. “He was more of a peacemaker.”

She said she believes other people associated with residents of the home were the targets.

Police ask anyone with information about the shooting to call the Violent Crimes Unit at (225) 389-4869 or Crime Stoppers at (225) 344-7867.