Police records indicate that a man shot in the neck minutes before Officer Jonathan Smith was ambushed outside a Marigny store early Sunday morning was an innocent bystander at a birthday party.
Police have linked Cornelius Barthelemy and James Wilson to both shootings.
The wife of the 28-year-old victim in the first shooting told police that she and her husband were leaving a party at Balloons for All Occasions, a business in the 1300 block of Annette Street in the 7th Ward, when a man ran inside about 1:37 a.m. Sunday with a warning to others in attendance.
“They have guns! They shooting!” he shouted.
The victim’s wife heard one shot and saw her husband fall to the ground, according to a police report.
She told police she didn’t see who fired the gun but saw an unknown man dart past her moments later.
The victim’s wife later saw a picture of Barthelemy on a social media website and said she recognized him as one of the men who ran from the party after the shooting and sped away in a white Ford SUV.
She told police that she remembered seeing him walk into the party and begin to dance, at one point asking someone, “Who is this party for?”
“Not you,” she remembered thinking, according to the police report.
At one point during the night, she told police, her sister-in-law was dancing with three men: Barthelemy, Wilson and another man allegedly involved in the police officer’s shooting, Caesar Adams.
About five minutes after the shooting at the party, Smith was shot during a brief gunfight outside of Gene’s Po-Boys at Elysian Fields and St. Claude avenues.
Barthelemy has acknowledged that he was one of the people seen in surveillance footage recorded during the shooting but has claimed he didn’t remember being at the corner at that time.
Wilson, however, allegedly told police during an interview that Barthelemy was driving the SUV when the men first saw Smith and that Barthelemy said, “I’m ’bout to kill this cop,” before parking the vehicle, getting out and shooting the officer.
Wilson got in the driver’s seat and drove the vehicle away after both other men apparently were hit by the officer’s fire.
Adams was found dead in the back of the SUV several hours after the shooting. It’s not clear if one of Smith’s bullets killed him or if he was shot later.
Barthelemy and Wilson each face charges of first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder of a police officer in connection with Smith’s shooting and Adams’ death. They were booked again on charges of aggravated battery and illegal use of weapons in connection with the Annette Street shooting.
The victim of that shooting was in critical but stable condition. He has had no feeling in his body below his neck since being shot, according to the police report.
Smith remains hospitalized in good condition but with serious injuries, his commander said Wednesday.
Follow Danny Monteverde on Twitter, @DCMonteverde.