A man whose daughter was killed in a drive-by shooting four months ago was found dead of apparent gunshot wounds inside his north Baton Rouge house Monday morning in what police are terming a homicide.
Police were called to the scene about 10 a.m. and discovered the body of Jeffrey Fleming, 42, inside the 5976 Victory Drive home, said Baton Rouge police Cpl. Don Coppola.
A few neighbors said they heard gunshots the night before, an unusual occurrence on the normally quiet Victory Drive.
“Every dog around started barking,” neighbor Dorothy James said.
Coppola, however, would not pinpoint when officers think Fleming died, saying the coroner will have to make that determination. Dr. William “Beau” Clark, the East Baton Rouge Parish coroner, said an autopsy will be conducted Tuesday.
Police don’t have any suspects in the homicide, Coppola said.
Family members were gathered at the house Monday night, going through Fleming’s belongings.
Talia Fleming, who said she is his niece, said her uncle was discovered by his girlfriend Monday morning after she returned from an overnight work shift. The niece said the girlfriend was unable to get in through the front door because it was locked, and found Jeffrey Fleming already dead after entering through an open window at the rear of the house.
Talia Fleming said her uncle spent some time in prison years ago but had turned his life around and had few visitors these days except for the occasional family gathering. She said he’d recently gone through a period of prolonged grief after one of his daughters, Donlisha Patterson, a 21-year-old LSU senior, was killed June 21 during a drive-by shooting at a birthday party in the Merrydale neighborhood. Elton Dontails Gaines III, of Baton Rouge, has since been arrested and charged with second-degree murder in Patterson’s death.
“He was just coming back to his old self,” Talia Fleming said about her uncle.
James, who lives directly across the street, said she was on her porch Sunday night, where she often is, when gunfire rang out.
“ ‘The Good Wife’ was on,” she recalled. “I heard about five or more shots.”
She said she heard more than she saw, which leads her to believe the shooter, perhaps more than one, entered the house through the rear.
Charlotte Poole, who lives next door to James, said Fleming was a generous and caring man who would pay her children to wash his car or give the family extra fish he’d caught from his many trips fishing.
James had similar things to say.
“I have a bad knee,” James said. “He told me, ‘I’ll get your mail for you if you don’t want to hurt that knee.’ ”
“I just hope they find out who did this,” Poole said.
Anyone with information about the case is urged to contact the Baton Rouge Violent Crimes Unit at (225) 389-4869 or Crime Stoppers at (225) 344-7867.