Another person who saw the aftermath of the shooting that took former New Orleans Saints player Will Smith’s life April 9 described the scene in an interview with The Advocate, saying he was surprised how calmly alleged shooter Cardell Hayes was acting at the scene.
That witness, who asked not to be named, said he rushed to the scene of Smith’s killing moments after hearing a crash and gunshots. Hayes had crashed his Hummer into the rear of Smith’s Mercedes SUV, setting off a confrontation that ended with Smith’s fatal shooting and Smith's wife suffering a bullet wound to each leg. The witness said he arrived after Hayes had placed a gun — still smoking — on the hood of the Hummer.
Of all he saw, what most struck the bystander was how calm Hayes was, making eye contact with the bystander and even taking a moment to speak with an older man wearing a blue button-down shirt who approached him.
“It was like he had nothing to fear,” the witness said. “He was not acting like a raving lunatic.”
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He said Smith — who was shot eight times, according to the coroner — was slumped halfway inside his SUV, with his feet on the ground and his left arm draped over the steering wheel, his right arm stretched out inside the vehicle.
The witness confirmed those details with a photo that he snapped on his phone, as well as shots of Hayes and his passenger, Kevin O’Neal, being handcuffed.
He also was there when Pierre Thomas, the former Saints running back, appeared. “He was just distraught — nothing else stood out about him,” the witness said.
Other bystanders have described a “shirtless man” acting erratically at the scene of the shooting and perhaps even attempting to charge Hayes, but the witness who spoke with The Advocate on Saturday said he did not see anyone matching that description but did hear people at the scene describing him and talking about him.
Another bystander, however, who spoke with The Advocate on Monday, also on condition of anonymity, said she did notice a shirtless man at the scene after the gunshots.
“He was acting upset — crazy — in the middle of the street,” she said. “That’s all.”
Interactive graphic of timeline of events in Will Smith shooting
Interactive graphic by DAN SWENSON | THE ADVOCATE