Just last weekend, Walesha Williams brought her boyfriend of a couple of months to meet her entire family. She told her cousin, Erica Williams, how much she loved Dwayne Martin, an acquaintance since middle school.
Now, less than a week later, Walesha Williams, 25, and her 8-year-old daughter, Paris, are dead, and Martin is the New Orleans Police Department’s sole suspect in the triple shooting early Tuesday morning that took their lives and also wounded a 39-year-old female friend of Williams.
Police said neighbors identified Martin, 25, from a photo lineup.
Williams died at the scene on Duane Road in New Orleans East, while her daughter and the other victim were taken to the hospital. Paris Williams died later that morning.
Erica Williams, 28, said she and the rest of the Williams clan met Martin on Saturday at the funeral of her grandmother, Eldrena Addison. He was quiet, almost shy, and kept his head down, she said.
Erica Williams said she thought he was just nervous about meeting all of his girlfriend’s family.
“Some of my family said they had a bad feeling about him, but nothing like this,” she said. “My feeling is that she seemed so happy, and who am I to judge?”
Walesha was more than a cousin, Erica Williams said; she was a “godsister.” They had spent almost a year together caring for their grandmother, who had cancer, and Erica said Walesha took Addison’s death the hardest.
“It’s so hard because I was just there for the funeral and saw her,” Erica said.
Martin “seemed like he was nice enough,” she said. “I never thought something this would ever happen. Never.”
Erica said her cousin had moved back to New Orleans about a year ago, leaving Paris behind in Texas.
“Everybody had left after the storm,” she said, referring to Hurricane Katrina, and “Walesha and I were the only ones who moved back to care for my grandmother.”
Paris reunited with her mother just last month, and Erica Williams said she can’t believe they are both gone.
Police found Walesha Williams’ friend at a home in the 14000 block of Duane Road just before 1 a.m. Tuesday, suffering from an apparent gunshot wound to the body. The friend, who had made her way to a neighboring residence, directed officers to the home where Williams and her daughter had been shot, according to police.
The friend apparently had “played dead” as the shooter made his way through the home, including shooting the child in the head. Martin also reportedly grabbed Walesha Williams’ cellphone and money before fleeing, according to WWL-TV.
Martin served six months in Orleans Parish Prison in 2012 after being convicted of four counts of resisting arrest with force, four counts of battery of a police officer, one count of simple escape and one count of resisting a officer. He also pleaded guilty to simple battery in 2010, and he has other arrests on burglary, theft and felony carnal knowledge of a juvenile, though all of those charges were dropped.
Homicide Division Cmdr. Nicholas Gernon told WWL-TV that the murder has stirred extraordinary outrage, and he urged Martin to turn himself in. “The safest place for Mr. Martin is in our custody,” Gernon said.
Homicide Detective Tindell Murdock is in charge of the investigation and can be contacted at (504) 658-5300.