A Baton Rouge man who police allege ignited a confrontation that immediately preceded the fatal shooting of two 19-year-old Southern University students near LSU in 2016 has pleaded guilty to a gun charge in the case.

Brandon Henderson, 26, will be sentenced March 14 by state District Judge Beau Higginbotham. He faces up to 10 years in prison.

Henderson was scheduled to stand trial last week on a charge of aggravated assault with a firearm but instead pleaded guilty to the charge. His attorney, Neal Wilkinson, denies his client instigated the deadly exchange of gunfire and said he deserves to be put on probation.

Henderson and another man, 24-year-old Ernest Felton, initially were booked on second-degree murder counts and other charges in the April 2016 slaying of innocent bystanders Annette January and Lashuntae Benton outside The Cottages apartment complex on Ben Hur Road.

Felton, of Florida, walked free in September 2016 after an East Baton Rouge Parish grand jury took no action against him on any charges. Police claim he fired the shots that killed the two students.

Felton's attorney, Tommy Damico, has said Felton acted in self-defense that night and "did the right thing to protect himself and other people."

The grand jury indicted Henderson only on a count of aggravated assault with a firearm. The panel alleged he assaulted Felton with a gun.

Police have alleged that January, a freshman from Gary, Indiana, and Benton, a sophomore from Lake Charles, were killed when Felton returned fire at Henderson, who admitted firing his gun into the air that night. Henderson was shot and wounded as well.

Henderson told police his brother had been involved in a fistfight with a group of people outside The Cottages the morning of the shooting. Henderson later drove to the complex to meet up with his brother and drove up to a crowd with his brother inside the car, a police report states.

Wilkinson said the angry crowd surrounded the car, so Henderson fired a shot into the air in an effort to extricate himself from the volatile situation.

"It was a mistake. He just made a bad choice by trying to break that crowd up by firing over their heads," Wilkinson said of Henderson's actions. "We feel a lot of pain for them. We wish it hadn't happened."

Henderson drove around a curve and into a dead end in the parking lot, and as he turned round and tried to leave, Felton fired at the car, striking January and Benton, the police report says.

The grand jury's decision to pertermit, which means the panel took no action against Felton, left open the possibility that prosecutors could present their case against him again if more evidence becomes available.

Felton played on Southern's football team for one season and was a part-time student at the university at the time of the shooting. Henderson, who had no prior criminal history, attended the school from 2009 to 2014 but did not graduate.

January ran on Southern's track and field team. Benton had worked as a volunteer student athletic trainer for a number of sports at the university. The women's families accepted posthumously degrees granted to the students by the school in May 2016.

Follow Joe Gyan Jr. on Twitter, @JoeGyanJr.