New Orleans police arrested two 16-year-olds Monday night in the shooting death of a pizza delivery driver who was gunned down early that morning in Mid-City.
One of the youths had violated the terms of his electronic supervision twice in the hours before the shooting and allegedly committed an unrelated armed robbery Saturday, officials said Tuesday.
The authorities declined to release the suspects’ names because they are juveniles, but they said both teens have criminal histories and were wearing electronic monitoring devices at the time of Richard Yeager’s fatal shooting.
Yeager, 35, who had been driving for Domino’s Pizza part time for less than two months, had just made a delivery when he was shot shortly after midnight in the 2800 block of St. Louis Street in an apparent carjacking.
“This is just an act of terrorism, basically, for his family and for this company,” said Glenn Mueller, chief executive officer of RPM Pizza, which operates the North Carrollton Avenue store that employed Yeager.
“It’s such a senseless thing,” Mueller said. “This could have happened to anybody.”
Yeager’s car, a 2004 black Toyota Corolla, was stolen from the scene, police said. It was found later near the home of one of the suspects. The youths were taken into custody several hours after the shooting, after a brief foot chase, at Pine and Forshey streets.
Police said they determined both teens had been in the area at the time of the shooting, and, using the tracking history of the electronic monitoring device, also connected one of the suspects to an armed robbery that occurred Saturday on Newcomb Boulevard. In that case, a 50-year-old woman was accosted by three men as she pulled into her driveway. One of the men demanded her keys and purse and struck her with his gun, police said. She fell to the ground as the men made off in her vehicle.
Philip Stelly, a spokesman for the Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office, said sheriff’s deputies received an alert Saturday that one of the juveniles had violated the rules of the office’s electronic monitoring program by leaving a restricted area. A deputy “made an unsuccessful attempt to contact” the teen, who Stelly said was originally arrested on counts of unauthorized use of a movable, resisting arrest and traffic violations.
“Efforts to reach the client’s mother, who is his legal guardian, were also unsuccessful,” Stelly said in a statement.
The deputy received another alert after 11 p.m. Saturday that the same juvenile had “returned to the restricted area,” Stelly said.
“The deputy reached the client on Sunday morning and issued a reprimand and placed the client under strict geographic restrictions until the deputy could meet with a Juvenile Court judge on Monday,” Stelly added.
The same youth violated the rules of the electronic monitoring again about 10:30 p.m. Sunday, less than two hours before Yeager was fatally shot. Stelly said a Juvenile Court judge issued a warrant for the teen’s arrest Monday afternoon in light of the weekend curfew violations.
Chief Deputy Jerry Ursin defended the use of a system of “geographic restriction” and reprimand in a written statement Tuesday, saying the Sheriff’s Office had acted in accordance with “progressive corrective guidelines established by the National Institute of Justice for juvenile clients.”
The second juvenile arrested was wearing a monitoring device that wasn’t part of the Sheriff’s Office’s electronic monitoring program, Stelly said.
Both juveniles were booked with first-degree murder.
Interim Police Superintendent Michael Harrison attributed the quick arrests to “solid police work and incredible teamwork” within the New Orleans Police Department.
“This investigation is not over,” Harrison said in a statement, “and we will continue to work around the clock until everyone involved in this senseless killing is brought to justice.”
Yeager’s death devastated his co-workers and brought about “a feeling of hopelessness,” Mueller said.
“He was very positive and just a joy to be around,” Mueller said, “which makes it really frustrating and hard for the team because he was full of life.”
Follow Jim Mustian on Twitter, @JimMustian.