Update, 4:14 p.m.
Detectives do not believe the shooting Monday of George Reusch Jr. was a carjacking, though they are open to the possibility, said Cpl. L’Jean McKneely, a spokesman for Baton Rouge Police.
“They would’ve stolen the vehicle,” McKneely said. “We don’t see that as being part of it.”
Witnesses said they saw two black men sitting on a bench near the Hooters parking lot on College Drive a few minutes after 7 p.m. Monday night. A black SUV, which was later identified as Reusch’s Jeep, pulled up and parked, they said.
One of the black men wearing a white T-shirt immediately walked up to the vehicle and got into the passenger seat and closed the door.
Witnesses said they heard a gunshot, and then the black man appeared to fall or trip out of the passenger side of the vehicle. The man climbed back into the vehicle, and then got out, this time carrying a backpack-like bag, witnesses said.
The two men ran away together toward Corporate Boulevard, witnesses said. About thirty seconds later the Jeep, with Reusch inside, started rolling toward College Drive where it crashed through a chain-link fence, went through a culvert and came up on the street, ramming a silver pickup truck.
McKneely would not confirm witnesses’ accounts, citing an ongoing investigation. He also would not say whether drugs were involved or whether anything was removed from the vehicle.
Investigators still have no suspects, though McKneely noted that people are calling in to share what they know and that detectives are following up on those leads.
The parents of the man shot and killed Monday night while sitting in his car in a strip mall just off of College Drive said they were shocked to hear of his death.
George Edward Reusch, the victim’s father, said he and his wife were at their Prairieville home when they received the news.
“I heard a knock on the door and thought it was UPS,” he said. “We had a lot of packages coming in. And then it turns out it’s two detectives.”
Reusch said he thinks his son may have been killed in a carjacking after he had just bought him a new Jeep Grand Cherokee the week before.
“It was a great big thing with the wheels and everything. It had a V8 engine in it,” he said. “It didn’t even have tags on it.”
George Reusch Jr. was engaged to 21-year-old Yasbeth Espinosa for the last two and half years and had a seven-month-old son with her, Roman Kees Reusch. The couple was talking about getting married in February.
George Reusch Jr. grew up in Houston and moved to Louisiana in high school, his parents said. He attended Dutchtown High School and was a bodybuilder at Triad Bodybuilding.
The family plans to have a memorial in Baton Rouge and then another in Alexandria where his mother, Beverly Kees Reusch, grew up.
Update, 8:45 a.m.:
Baton Rouge police have identified a man shot to death Monday night in a parking lot at 5110 Corporate Boulevard as George Reusch Jr., 27, of 38416 Silverstone Avenue.
A man died in an EMS ambulance on the way to the hospital after being shot Monday night in a strip mall parking lot off College Drive just north of Interstate 10.
The victim was shot in the parking lot near Hooters restaurant around 7:20 p.m., said Baton Rouge Police spokesman Lt. Jonny Dunnam. Police did not immediately identify the victim Monday night.
Still seated in the driver’s seat of the dark-colored Jeep SUV he’d been driving, the victim drove or rolled through a chain-link fence, across a culvert and into the northbound lane of College Drive, striking a passing vehicle, Dunnam said.
Two men, both believed to have been involved in the shooting, ran from the parking lot and headed northeast shortly after the shooting, Dunnam said. A possible motive in the slaying remained unclear Monday night.
Dunnam said there’s no indication the people involved had been patrons at any of the businesses in the strip mall.
Police closed the northbound lane of College Drive, as well as the westbound I-10 exit, and taped off large portions of the parking lot as they investigated the shooting.