A former standout wide receiver for the Landry-Walker High School football team is now suspected in a September shooting in Central City that left five people wounded and an innocent bystander dead, according to the FBI.
Authorities have yet to charge anyone in the attack, which took place near South Claiborne Avenue and First Street. But in a sworn statement this month, an FBI agent said Brandon "Pooh" Butler is considered a suspect in the incident, as well as in a drug-related murder attempt on Nov. 30.
New Orleans Police Superintendent Michael Harrison walked the streets of a Central City neig…
A pistol recovered after a car chase links Butler, 20, to both shootings, the FBI agent said. Butler was indicted last month on separate federal gun and drug charges and remains in federal custody.
Butler and a group of other men have been targets of a state and federal anti-gang task force since at least early August, according to the FBI.
At the center of that investigation is a purported “trap house,” used to stash guns and drugs, at 2410 Josephine St., half a mile from the site of the Central City shooting. On Aug. 14, New Orleans officers issued an arrest warrant for Butler after finding him sitting across the street from the property.
He was out on bond Sept. 11 when five people were wounded and Earnest McKnight, a 63-year-old grass cutter, was killed.
Last updated 11:30 a.m. Monday
Four of the six people shot in a wild attack on a Central City street corner on Sunday night may have been innocent bystanders, New Orleans Police Superintendent Michael Harrison said.
The shooting came a few weeks after prosecutors with Orleans Parish District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro's office unsuccessfully asked a judge to increase Butler's total bail to $550,000. Butler was instead free on bail totaling $150,000.
The shooting came in the midst of a spike in violence in the neighborhood that also claimed the life of one of Butler’s reputed associates.
Terryle “Teedy” Holmes, one of the men accused of selling drugs with Butler out of the "trap house," was shot to death at Josephine Street and Rev. John Raphael Jr. Way on Nov. 18.
Federal authorities obtained a warrant for Butler’s arrest on gun and drug charges on Dec. 1. As NOPD officers attempted to arrest him that same day in Central City, he took off in a Nissan Armada, according to the FBI.
Butler crashed into another vehicle, then fled on foot, police said. They said that as he dashed away from officers, he tossed a 9mm Masterpiece Arms Mac-11 style gun and a .40 caliber Glock over the fence of the Home Depot store in Central City.
Despite his talents as a wide receiver, Butler couldn’t outrun the NOPD. He was arrested near the Home Depot with four grams of cocaine in his front shirt pocket, police said.
FBI Special Agent Sheila McMillan said in a Jan. 3 statement that ballistics tests have linked the 9mm gun that Butler is accused of tossing away to the Central City mass shooting and another shooting on Nov. 30.
Butler's exploits on the football field earned him interest letters from some college programs, including Stanford, Kansas State and Yale universities. But his off-field entanglements have dogged him.
As a 16-year-old, court records show, Butler was caught in possession of a car stolen from the O. Perry Walker High School parking lot. Butler claimed two other students had brought the vehicle to his house.
Then, as he was receiving inquiries from college football programs in January 2014, police spotted two men fighting at South Liberty and St. Andrew streets in Central City.
Police said a man in a black hoodie, later identified as Butler, ran off. The other man said he'd been robbed at gunpoint of several watches. Soon afterward, police heard yelling, and residents of a house on South Liberty said a man had tried to break in through their back window.
Police found Butler underneath the house near a gun and a box containing several Charles Raymond watches. A black hoodie was found atop a shed nearby.
Butler was booked on armed robbery; he later picked up another charge in jail for possession of a shank.
He remained behind bars for more than two years before Criminal District Court Judge Byron C. Williams reduced his combined bail amount on those two cases from $125,000 to $75,000, and Butler was able to pay that amount.
He returned to jail briefly following his arrest in August.
According to police, Butler was seen putting a gun back into a car, and officers soon found him sitting on the steps of a vacant house at 2415 Josephine, across the street from the trap house.
A red 2010 Honda Accord was parked in front. Butler "did not claim the vehicle" and left the scene, according to a report. But police officers spotted weapons in the car and found a key to it in the mailbox of the house where Butler had been sitting.
Police got a search warrant and found a stolen assault rifle in the car, along with a handgun with a laser sight and an extended magazine holding 28 live rounds.
The report says police also found $463 in cash and dozens of baggies containing powder and rock cocaine totaling 13 grams. The car's registered owner admitted she lent the car to Butler early that morning, according to police.
Butler was booked on possession with intent to distribute cocaine, illegal possession of stolen firearms and illegal carrying of a weapon with a controlled dangerous substance.
He made the $11,500 bail in that case before Cannizzaro's office filed a motion to hike the amount. Prosecutors argued that Butler "presents a threat to the safety of the community" and "demonstrates a pattern of criminal behavior likely to result in tragic consequences."
Williams, the judge, declined the request, instead settling on $25,000 for each of the three new charges Butler faced, while leaving his earlier bails in place.
Butler’s repeated trips in and out of the Orleans Justice Center ended after his last arrest on Dec. 1.
On Dec. 15, a federal grand jury, adopting the charges that he had faced in state court, indicted him on two counts of possession with intent to distribute controlled substances, two counts of possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime and possession of a firearm in a school zone.
Butler is now being held in federal custody, without bail.
His attorney, Eusi Phillips, said Tuesday he was unaware of the federal investigation related to the shooting.