Ronald Gasser has been identified as the man who shot and killed Joe McKnight in New Orleans on Thursday afternoon. So why has he been released from prison? That’s the question that a lot of people are asking police and officials after Gasser was released from custody without being charged. “Gasser was released overnight and has not been charged as of yet. The matter remains under investigation,” Fortunato said Col. John Fortunato, a Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office (JPSO) spokesman said.
Here’s what we know about the situation so far.
Update 12/6/2016: Ronald Gasser has been arrested and charged with manslaughter, according to ABC.
Who Is Ronald Gasser?
Ronald Gasser is a 54-year-old man who moved into his father’s house in Gretna, Louisiana about 15 years ago. His father died around a year ago, but Gasser continues to live in the one-story brick apartment. NOLA.com interviewed Gasser’s sister, Sharon Weileman, who told them that “He’s the best guy, the most generous guy. I have no idea what happened. I can’t even talk right now.”
Gasser has no criminal record in Louisiana.
According to witnesses, Gasser shot ex-NFL running back Joe McKnight multiple times in a fit of road rage at the intersection of Behrman Highway and Holmes Boulevard. Allegedly, Gasser was even seen and heard standing over McKnight, who had already been shot, yelling at him “I told you not to f*** with me” before shooting him again. McKnight was not armed. Gasser remained at the scene of the crime and surrendered his gun to the police when they arrived. The JPSO confirms that Gasser admitted to shooting McKnight and explained his side of the story.
He was taken into police custody last night and then released from custody without being charged.
Below you’ll find a video of EMS first responders trying to resuscitate McKnight. Warning: it’s graphic.
Although releasing an admitted shooter seems more than a little sketchy, the police can only hold someone 24 hours before charging him with a crime. The JPSO has asked for more witnesses to come forward, so the police might be trying to determine whether to charge Gasser with manslaughter, or 2nd-degree murder–the difference of which could be the difference between years or life in jail. Still, this is an extremely bizzare (if not tragic) situation to say the least.
Reactions To The Shooting + Release
Needless to say, a lot of people are wondering what could have happened that would prompt the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office to release Ronald Gasser after they confirmed that he was, in fact, the man who shot and killed Joe McKnight. The only answer that we can think of is that Gasser was acting in self-defense, although the situation one witness described (standing over McKnight and shooting him again) would not qualify as self-defense.
With a crime like this, race is obviously going to play a part. Here are some reactions to the situation:
It would seem that the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office is doing themselves an extreme disservice by releasing a shooter overnight, before a weekend, with zero explanation. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to guess that there will be riots or demonstrations on the streets this weekend–something that could have been avoided with a little bit more information. Keeping the peace is like their #1 prerogative, no?