Trung Le, the 21-year-old Belle Chasse man accused of being one of two gunmen in a June shoot-out on Bourbon Street that killed one person and injured nine others, was indicted Thursday on one count of manslaughter and one count of attempted second-degree murder.
The manslaughter count stems from the death of Brittany Thomas, a 21-year-old Hammond nursing student who died a few days after the shooting.
The victim of the attempted second-degree murder is referred to only as an “unknown black male,” a description that likely refers to the second alleged shooter, who has yet to be named or arrested.
According to a statement from Christopher Bowman, a spokesman for Orleans Parish District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro, prosecutors decided to seek only manslaughter and attempted murder charges after a review of the evidence.
“While the arrest was based upon a finding of probable cause, the DA’s Office must possess evidence that proves the charges beyond a reasonable doubt prior to instituting prosecution,” Bowman said.
Both the FBI and the State Police assisted in the investigation, according to Bowman.
The indictment pales in comparison to the one count of first-degree murder and nine counts of attempted first-degree murder with which Le was booked after his July 4 arrest.
Le’s bail was set at $1.5 million Thursday by Criminal District Court Judge Karen Herman. He had previously been held without bail.
Le allegedly opened fire at about 3 a.m. June 29 in the 700 block of Bourbon Street. Videos from nearby security cameras captured an exchange of gunfire between two men that sent revelers diving into nearby bars for cover.
U.S. marshals and New Orleans police arrested Le July 4 near Gulfport, Mississippi, where he apparently fled after the shooting. He was later extradited to Louisiana.
According to an arrest warrant signed by Magistrate Commissioner Juana Lombard, a “known witness” to the shooting provided the crucial interview with police that led to Le’s arrest. Police have not divulged the name of the witness.
Though he had no previous criminal history in Orleans Parish, Le pleaded guilty in 2013 to marijuana charges in Jefferson Parish stemming from a traffic stop in Terrytown in November 2011.
Cmdr. Eric Becnel, a spokesman for the Plaquemines Parish Sheriff’s Office, said officers had visited Le’s Belle Chasse address 13 times since 2009 for a variety of reasons, including a reported gunshot.
What triggered the shoot-out on Bourbon Street remains unclear.
Le’s attorney, Martin Regan, has argued that his client was defending himself during the shooting. In an interview earlier this month, he said an intoxicated man started the altercation by pointing a gun at Le and his friends. Regan said there was a video that would back up those claims.
Former New Orleans Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas has said it was Le who fired the first shot in the fracas.
According to the Louisiana manslaughter statute, Le could be found guilty of manslaughter in Thomas’ death even if the other shooter fired the fatal shot.
Prosecutors would need only to prove Le was “engaged in the perpetration or attempted perpetration of any felony” that led to Thomas’s death.