A suspect in an early Sunday morning gunfight that left two 19-year-old Southern University students dead when they were caught in the crossfire is back in jail after a judge ruled he violated the terms of his bail by leaving the state without permission.
Ernest Bernard Felton, 22, a part-time student at Southern, was booked Sunday night on counts of attempted second-degree murder and illegal use of a weapon for allegedly wounding a second suspected shooter Sunday. Felton was released on $90,000 bail late Tuesday, but on Thursday, state District Judge Beau Higginbotham ordered authorities to take Felton back into custody. Police said Felton travelled to Dallas, which is outside the court’s jurisdiction, on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, 24-year-old Brandon Henderson, the second suspected shooter, was released from the hospital Thursday where he’d been treated for wounds suffered in the exchange of gunfire with Felton, said Sgt. Don Coppola Jr., a Baton Rouge Police spokesman.
Henderson, who had pulled up outside the party where the shooting occurred in a white Chevrolet Cobalt, was hit in the thigh and torso as he and Felton traded gunfire in the Cottages apartment complex near LSU, a Baton Rouge police report says.
Detectives have not arrested Henderson, and it remains uncertain what — if any — criminal counts he may face for his role in the shooting, said Coppola, who confirmed Henderson’s release from the hospital.
Coppola said Felton voluntarily returned to Baton Rouge and turned himself in to the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office Warrant Division Thursday afternoon. It wasn’t immediately clear why Felton, a native of Miami, was in Texas.
The shooting, which shocked the Southern University campus, took place outside a birthday party hosted by a Southern student and attended by a number of students and student-athletes.
Lashuntae “Tae” Benton, a sophomore from Lake Charles, was pronounced dead at the scene of the shooting. Annette January, a freshman from Gary, Indiana, was taken to a hospital where she died shortly after arriving.
No one has yet been arrested for their deaths. Coppola said detectives are still awaiting the results of ballistics tests to determine whose bullets fatally struck the women.
“It’s still an ongoing, fluid investigation,” Coppola said Thursday.
Witnesses told The Advocate on Tuesday that members of the Southern men’s track team got into a fight with the shooter in the car, identified in the police report as Henderson, shortly before gunfire broke out.
Two of the witnesses said the man in the car opened fire first.
But another witness quoted in the police report told detectives that Felton was the aggressor in the shooting, brandishing a handgun and opening fire at Henderson’s white Chevrolet Cobalt as he pulled up outside the party.
East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore III couldn’t say Thursday evening whether Felton, who is being held in East Baton Rouge Parish Prison, will face an increase in bail or revocation for the violation, saying he needed more information about the incident.
Follow Bryn Stole on Twitter, @BrynStole.