A teenager was shot to death on Cadillac Street late Tuesday afternoon, his death marking the first Baton Rouge homicide of 2021.

The shooting occurred around 3 p.m. near the end of Cadillac Street, across from BREC's Cadillac Street Park and just down the road from a school in the Zion City neighborhood. 

The victim was pronounced dead on the scene after medics arrived, according to police. Neighbors reported hearing a single gunshot and said the victim was found inside a pickup truck. 

The truck was parked near a group of apartment buildings whose residents described the area as typically quiet and safe.

Children played on bikes and hoverboards just outside the crime scene tape. At one point while police were investigating, an ice cream truck drove by, its signature music momentarily interrupting the otherwise somber occasion. A pair of boys started playing basketball in the nearby park not long after police took down the tape. 

Residents said they don't believe the victim lived in the area; they didn't recognize the person or vehicle. Officials identified the victim as 16-year-old James Jarreau III.

Once the coroner's office had removed the body, a tow truck arrived to haul away the pickup, which will likely be treated as evidence. 

This first homicide of 2021 came following a year of unprecedented violence across East Baton Rouge Parish, where 114 people were victims of homicide in 2020, according to unofficial records maintained by The Advocate. That total surpassed the previous record set in 2017. The newspaper tracks intentional and unjustified killings per FBI crime reporting standards. 

Experts believe the coronavirus pandemic, changes to the criminal justice system and widespread protests against police brutality all contributed to the rise in violence, which occurred not only in Baton Rouge but in many cities across the country. 

While the month of November and first half of December were both exceptionally violent across East Baton Rouge, the past few weeks have brought relative peace. The deadly shooting Tuesday marked the first such incident in two weeks. During normal times, that brief respite would be a common occurrence, but the past several months have seen someone killed every few days on average.

Editor's note: This story was updated to include the name of the victim, which officials released Thursday.


Email Lea Skene at lskene@theadvocate.com.