Louisiana police believe race may have played a role in the fatal drive-by shooting of a 66-year-old white man while he was installing a mailbox in a New Orleans suburb in April, WWL reported.
On April 10, Lawrence Herr was shot and killed while working outside of a home in Kenner, Louisiana. The suspects, 25-year-old Maurice Holmes and 23-year-old Tahj Matthews were arrested the next day and charged with first-degree murder.
Matthews and Holmes are being held at the Correctional Center in Jefferson Parish. While suspects do not receive a bond on a first-degree murder charge, the defense filed a motion to reduce the bond, however, the motion was denied last Tuesday.
At Tuesday’s hearing, Nick Engler, the lead detective in the case, said that under questioning Matthews told detectives that they “wanted to kill a white person.” The talkative Matthews also confessed to hiding the gun in the attic of his home where it was later found by police.
Herr was shot once in the back and the bullet exited through his chest, according to the medical examiner.
The Kenner Police Department used the license plate reader camera system to track Matthews and Holmes’ vehicle as it drove past Herr before making a U-turn at a stop sign to pass Herr a second time. The vehicle then made another U-turn to drive past Herr a third time, stopping for a few seconds before Herr was shot.
On Wednesday, a spokesperson for the Jefferson Parish District Attorney’s office said the case has not yet been reviewed. In Louisiana first-degree murder is considered a capital offense punished by life without parole or the death penalty. There is also a hate crime exception for a defendant convicted of targeting someone based on race that adds up to five additional years to a sentence and a fine of up to $5,000.
Describing the drive-by shooting as a “heinous” “assassination,” Kenner Police Chief Keith Conley said his department is “determined to end the rage of these criminals” before others can be targeted.