Peter Oatis Jr. photo

Peter Oatis Jr., via WWL-TV

Teacher Romell Smith was bursting with pride as his former student Peter Oatis Jr. prepared to start his own career in education. 

Now, Smith is left wondering whether his former student's promising future was destroyed over a car. 

The body of Oatis, 22, was found last week near the Seabrook Bridge. He had been shot to death. The New Orleans Coroner's Office released his name Monday.

"This young man was really one of those students who you could look at and say we did good by," said Smith, who taught Oatis at O. Perry Walker High School in Algiers, before it combined with L.B. Landry High School. "He got the lessons, and he was trying to make a difference for his community.

"The fact he potentially died over a car ... really hurts."

Smith said Oatis' family thinks he may have been killed during a carjacking. 

Police haven't publicly discussed any suspects or a potential motive in the case.

Oatis did not have any identification on him when officers found his body off the 5500 block of Lakeshore Drive about 3:45 p.m. Thursday. He had been shot at least once, police said.

On Saturday, WWL-TV reported that police were looking for him as part of a missing persons case. He had last been seen leaving his aunt's home in Algiers on Wednesday to pick up dinner before heading to his apartment.

The aunt told police she had tried to contact him several times Thursday without success, and he had not shown up to work. WWL-TV reported that police also were searching for Oatis' black, four-door Nissan Sentra.

Smith said it became clear over the weekend that Oatis was the victim found Thursday.

He had been studying education at Southern University at New Orleans and had essentially been apprenticing at George Washington Carver High School in the Desire neighborhood.

Carver's administration on Tuesday said there was no record of Oatis working at the school. 

Smith said he was committed to overcoming his grief over his lost pupil in hopes of inspiring other future educators.

"You can't stop in the midst of all this craziness," he said. "It hurts, but we have to keep trying to make this a better place."

The Coroner's Office on Monday also released the names of two other people who were slain recently.

It confirmed reports over the weekend that the man killed Saturday in the 4900 block of Lafaye Street in Gentilly Terrace was former Orleans Parish Sheriff's Office Sgt. Ian Taylor, 38.

It said 27-year-old Jean'Luc Williams was the man killed in a double shooting in the 1300 block of Egania Street in the Lower 9th Ward on Oct. 28.

This post was updated to include a statement from Carver on Nov. 7, 2017. 

Follow Ramon Antonio Vargas on Twitter, @RVargasAdvocate.

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