City adjusts police coverage after Bourbon St. shooting
Police in New Orleans continued to scour for leads on the Bourbon Street shootings Thursday, even as Gov. Bobby Jindal answered the mayor’s call — at least in part — for more state troopers to patrol the city.
The New Orleans Police Department released infrared photographs of two more people it said may have “critical” information about the case, asking the public to help identify and find them. But neither of the men pictured is a suspect, authorities said.
At the same time, a third “person of interest” in the case was released from custody in Jefferson Parish because of jail overcrowding. He had been booked there on unrelated traffic and theft charges.
NOPD homicide detectives questioned the man, Justin Odom, 20, for several hours Wednesday, but NOPD spokeswoman Hilal Williams said only that “we are still investigating what his involvement may be.”
In the meantime, State Police Superintendent Col. Mike Edmonson said Thursday that Jindal has approved redeploying 50 state troopers from their regular duties to help police parts of the city through Labor Day.
In a news conference this week, Landrieu called for a long-term commitment of 100 state troopers to supplement the NOPD’s shrinking force, but Edmonson said, “I can’t feasibly do 100 without affecting some other part of the state.”
He said most of the extra troopers will patrol the French Quarter, where one person was killed and nine others wounded in Sunday’s shooting, but they will be able to go elsewhere, as needed. “We’ll go wherever crime takes us,” Edmonson said.
The mayor’s response, in a prepared statement, suggested he may continue to press for more help.
“The additional support today is a step in the right direction, and we are hopeful that Gov. Jindal will permanently assign additional state troopers to our city,” Landrieu said.
The latest “persons of interest” photos released by police picture two individuals. Both men are shown wearing baseball caps, and neither seems in any hurry at the moment the images were taken.
Neither individual is a suspect, said Landrieu spokesman Tyler Gamble, adding, “They are persons of interest who may have information, which may assist detectives in this investigation.”
An attorney for Odom said Thursday that his client was not a suspect either, but that he provided homicide detectives “material information” for their investigation.
Odom surrendered to Gretna police Wednesday and was jailed in Jefferson Parish on unrelated warrants. The Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office said Odom was released Thursday morning because of overcrowding, having been booked on outstanding traffic and municipal theft charges.
A witness to the shootings said Odom’s mug shot, which police released earlier this week, bore similarities to a man he saw racing down St. Peter Street away from the scene, chased by a police officer.
Odom’s attorney, Gregory Thompson, said his client was never read his rights over the course of questioning by New Orleans detectives about the shooting spree.
“He was not booked with anything in relation to the shooting, and he was not a suspect, and I don’t think he ever has been at any point in the investigation,” Thompson said.
“Maybe at first when you’re looking at video (he was suspected). After they got more video, I think they realized at that point he was not a suspect.”
Thompson said he decided to have Odom surrender in Gretna to avoid a prolonged stay in Orleans Parish Prison and because the warrants against him were from Jefferson Parish. He said Odom was cooperative with investigators.
He declined to say where Odom was at 2:45 a.m. Sunday when the gunfire erupted in the 700 block of Bourbon, as late-night revelers coursed through the city’s most famous strip.
Police “thought he could provide material information to the investigation,” and Odom did, Thompson said, although he declined to offer specifics.
Police said earlier that they also were looking for another man with whom Odom associates and who is known as either Josh or Joe.
Thompson said Odom was given new court dates on the traffic and theft charges.
Court records show that Odom pleaded guilty in March to a pair of marijuana possession counts stemming from arrests this year and last year in Jefferson Parish. He received credit for time served, according to court records.
“He’s pretty much free to do whatever he wants to do,” Thompson said.