Deputies arrest BR man in July 5 fatal shooting

East Baton Rouge sheriff’s deputies on Thursday arrested a 25-year-old man accused of fatally shooting another man on July 5 outside of the Oakleigh Apartments in the 11500 block of Perkins Road.

Joshua Jermaine Thomas, 600 Wooddale Apt. 140, Baton Rouge, was booked into East Baton Rouge Parish Prison on counts of second-degree murder and attempted simple burglary, according to an affidavit of probable cause.

Shortly before 5:30 a.m. on July 5, John Coates, the 25-year-old victim, was seen by two Baton Rouge police officers walking toward his apartment, the affidavit says.

Moments later, Coates was shot. The police officers saw him run to a nearby parking lot, where he collapsed and died. The officers then saw a man in a white T-shirt flee the scene, the affidavit says.

Detectives found a pry bar near Coates’ apartment, which a witness said had been used by someone matching Thomas’ description in an attempt to break into Coates’ apartment, the affidavit says.

Detectives on July 8 sent the pry bar to the Louisiana State Police Crime Laboratory, where it was swabbed for DNA. Several days later, it was determined that DNA on the pry bar matched Thomas, the affidavit says.

Thomas, who is an ex-boyfriend of the woman who Coates was living with at the time of the shooting, initially denied any involvement in the murder. Thomas also shares a son with the woman, the affidavit says. Thomas also told detectives that he had on ongoing feud with Coates for the past three years.

Thomas, after initially saying he did not own a pry bar, later told detectives that he did, in fact, purchase a pry bar with which he attempted to burglarize the woman’s vehicle on July 5, the affidavit says. He added that he fled during the attempted burglary after seeing a police car nearby.