A teenager who was shot by a Marigny homeowner during an apparent attempted burglary last summer was arrested Friday afternoon for entering a residence just blocks away from the previous incident, according to a law enforcement source.
The source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, identified Marshall Coulter, 15, as the person arrested in Friday’s incident.
Coulter, then 14, was shot in the head in July by New Orleans historic buildings inspector Merritt Landry after he scaled Landry’s fence in the middle of the night.
Officer Frank Robertson, a spokesman for the New Orleans Police Department, said officers arrested a 15-year-old youth in the 2000 block of Royal Street about 3:45 p.m. Friday. Robertson said the boy was taken to the Juvenile Bureau and booked with simple burglary.
Robertson did not name the suspect because he is a juvenile.
Christopher Starnes, who owns the Marigny Brasserie restaurant at Royal and Frenchmen streets, said he saw Coulter sitting on the porch of the adjacent home when he returned to his restaurant from an errand Friday.
“He was just fishing through the guy’s mailbox and throwing the mail into the alley,” Starnes said. “I thought he was stoned.”
According to Starnes, Coulter’s speech seemed slow and impaired, but he appeared innocuous.
“He didn’t have the vibe of being up to no good,” he said.
Starnes said the resident of the house later told him that when he came home, Coulter was in his house. Apparently, the youth had found a key in the mailbox and let himself in.
According to Starnes, the resident called police, who arrived and apprehended Coulter.
He said the resident told him that Coulter didn’t steal anything, even though a laptop and cellphone were lying on a table. The resident also told him that the boy waited calmly on the steps for the police to arrive, he said.
Starnes said police told him the intruder was Marshall Coulter.
After an investigation of the July incident, New Orleans police concluded Landry fired on the youth from about 30 feet away. Coulter was unarmed and “not posing an imminent threat,” according to police, although Landry said that as he approached the youth, Coulter made a “move, as if to reach for something,” at which time he shot him.
Coulter underwent a series of hospital procedures after suffering a gunshot wound to the head
The incident, which happened in the wake of the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the killing of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin, ignited controversy because it involved a white man claiming self-defense in the shooting of a black teenager.
A group of community activists called for a swift prosecution of Landry, while others campaigned on his behalf and contributed to his defense fund. Supporters said he was protecting his home and his then-pregnant wife, who was due to give birth in days.
Marshall Coulter’s brother, Robert Coulter, said his brother was a “professional thief” and was facing charges for theft at the time of the shooting.
Louisiana has a “stand your ground law,” similar to Florida’s, which allows for the use of lethal force if one reasonably feels in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm. The District Attorney’s Office has been unable to get a grand jury to indict Landry, who was booked on a count of attempted second-degree murder, in the shooting. He is free on bail.
Attempts to contact Coulter’s family or Landry’s attorney Saturday were unsuccessful.