A teenager described by New Orleans police as “extremely violent” was arrested this week and booked with second-degree murder in connection with the death of a woman he allegedly gunned down in broad daylight last month in Central City.
Thursday’s arrest was the second time in two years that Johntrell “John John” Washington, 17, was picked up on a murder charge.
In March 2013, police named him as a suspect in the shooting death of a 16-year-old youth blocks away from where the latest killing occurred.
According to police records, two witnesses have identified Washington as the person who shot 38-year-old Racquel Gillard on April 14.
It was about 2 p.m. that day when one of the witnesses heard gunfire near South Liberty and Josephine streets, according to an application for an arrest warrant.
The other witness reportedly saw Washington drag Gillard by her arm to a vacant lot on the corner and shoot her twice. After she fell to the ground, Washington allegedly shot her several more times.
After the gunfire ceased, the first witness reported seeing Washington walk “briskly” to a vehicle parked at LaSalle and Josephine streets.
The witness looked “directly at the face of the subject and recognized him from the area,” Detective Travis Ward wrote.
Gillard died about an hour later at Interim LSU Hospital.
Police have not offered a motive in Gillard’s death.
But Luther Tate, 69, who had been dating her for almost 10 years, said it was a misunderstanding about drugs. He said Gillard used drugs. He tried to help her get clean but was not successful, he said.
At some point, Tate said, some of Washington’s drugs disappeared, and he thought Gillard took them. It was only after the shooting that Washington learned someone else took the drugs, Tate said.
“He really killed her for nothing,” he said. “He killed her for what he thought she did.”
While Tate said he is mourning his girlfriend’s death, he said he also feels bad for Washington, who has now been accused of two murders before reaching adult status.
“It’s bad for both sides,” Tate said. “I think they both lost.”
Washington was 15 when he was first accused of murder.
Police suspect he killed 16-year-old Ricky Summers on March 3, 2012, behind a home in the 2200 block of Terpsichore Street.
Washington was arrested about a year later and booked on a count of second-degree murder. Though he was 16 at the time, the case was transferred from Juvenile Court to Orleans Parish Criminal District Court.
In announcing the arrest, police hinted that tips were responsible. But the case apparently crumbled, and prosecutors refused the charge in June 2013.
“For the District Attorney’s Office to institute prosecution in any case, the office must possess evidence that proves beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the criminal act for which he is charged,” District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro said in a prepared statement Friday.
Washington remained jailed Friday on a $750,000 bail.
WWL-TV reporter Paul Murphy contributed to this report. Follow Danny Monteverde on Twitter at @DCMonteverde.