New Orleans police, following a series of tips, on Wednesday arrested a local man accused of fatally shooting a Domino’s pizza delivery driver last week in the Lower 9th Ward.
Michael Portis, 24, was taken into custody about 7 a.m. at his home in Gentilly.
Portis, who authorities said acted alone, was booked with first-degree murder in the March 24 shooting death of Michael Price, a father of three young children.
Price, 36, was shot before 1 a.m. in the 6100 block of North Roman Street in an apparent robbery. His body, apparently stripped of his wallet, was found in the driver’s seat of a parked Ford Fusion, police said.
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Police Superintendent Michael Harrison told reporters Wednesday that Price had been on duty between deliveries and that, “by all accounts, he was there doing exactly what he was supposed to do.”
“This was a senseless killing,” Harrison said. “He did not deserve this.”
Price’s death, the second murder of a Domino’s delivery man since September, startled his colleagues and prompted RPM Pizza, the Domino’s Pizza franchise in New Orleans, to implement a series of changes, including requiring customers to pay for delivery with credit cards after 10 p.m. The company also announced last week that it was looking to become “a test market for new technology with in-car cameras and GPS tracking devices.”
The arrest of Portis “is a big victory in light of things, but it’s not going to change what happened,” said Robert Tedesco, RPM’s regional vice president.
He said Price’s family had been overcome by “the outpouring of support” from the community. “They pleaded for help, and they got it,” Tedesco said.
Harrison said detectives worked “around the clock” to solve Price’s murder.
An arrest warrant for Portis says that Detective Travis Ward was contacted by “a known subject” who told him that Portis had been the shooter.
The warrant says Ward also found an unnamed witness who said he had seen Portis, whom he knew as “Mike Mike,” in the area of the shooting about four hours before Price was killed.
“The known witness advised that he was awoken in the middle of the night and advised that a murder occurred in the area,” Ward wrote in the warrant. “The known witness then went back to sleep.”
The witness told police that he awoke about 8 a.m. and was approached by “Mike Mike,” who said that he had “ ‘hit a lick last night’ and confessed to him that he killed the pizza delivery driver.”
The witness said Portis had a tattoo of a cross between his eyes and identified him in a photograph, according to the warrant.
Mayor Mitch Landrieu said Price’s murder had been “a bit more personal” because Domino’s recently partnered with the New Orleans Police Department to assist in its recruitment efforts.
“All of the murders in this city put a dagger through our heart and through the soul of the city, and every one of them matters,” Landrieu said.
Staff writer John Simerman contributed to this report.
Follow Jim Mustian on Twitter, @JimMustian.