A pair of shootings Wednesday morning eight blocks and nine hours apart left an 18-year-old high school student dead, sent another man to the hospital and set the Old South Baton Rouge neighborhood on edge.
The violence began just after midnight when a series of gunshots struck Keondrae Ricks in the torso less than a block from his home at 1951 Nebraska St. Police officers found Ricks, an 18-year-old McKinley High School student, dead in the roadway around 12:15 a.m., said Sgt. L'Jean McKneely Jr., a Baton Rouge police spokesman.
Ricks' mother, Kengar Taylor, said police officers knocking on her door in the middle of the night informed her of the slaying and returned the mountain bike he'd been riding when he was shot.
Later Wednesday morning, at about 9:30 a.m., police say a second round of gunfire wounded at least one man in the 2000 block of Kentucky Street, less than eight blocks from where Taylor was found dead.
Police found a male victim in that shooting in a silver Hyundai sedan parked just over a mile away on May Street between the LSU Lakes. The man, who wasn't identified, had been shot in the neck.
Baton Rouge EMS rushed the man to the hospital, where he remained in stable condition Wednesday evening, said Sgt. Don Coppola Jr., another police spokesman.
Coppola said police suspect others were in the car with the victim but were gone by the time officers arrived.
Detectives blocked off the streets around both the scene of the suspected shooting on Kentucky and around the LSU Lakes where the victim was found.
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Divers with the police department searched through the muddy bottom of the lake near where the Hyundai sat parked, hunting for potential evidence. Coppola declined to say whether the divers recovered anything.
Throughout the morning and into the afternoon, a heavy police presence buzzed around the Old South Baton Rouge neighborhood, located between Highland Road and Dalrymple Drive just north of the LSU campus.
Coppola said he couldn't confirm whether the two shootings are linked but said detectives are pursuing a number of potential leads and interviewing witnesses in both cases.
At about midnight, detectives and crime scene experts poured over the 2000 block of Kentucky Avenue, where the man found wounded near the LSU Lakes is believed to have been shot, and focused particular attention on a parked sedan in a home's driveway. Police spent hours examining potential evidence and towed away a high-end Audi, as residents of the street grumbled just outside the yellow tape about the inconveniences of having their homes suddenly turned into a crime scene.
Around 1:30 p.m., as police continued to collect evidence, residents said they heard another burst of gunfire from a couple of blocks over, shortly after a car pulled up on the blocked-off scene and then drove off. No one is believed to have been wounded from that gunfire.
Ricks, who was pronounced dead in the street about 200 feet from his family's home, was the oldest of four children and an affectionate son, said his mother.
Ricks' bicycle leaned against the porch as friends and relatives gathered outside the house to comfort each other. Ricks' younger brother grabbed a spiral-bound notebook from inside to show drawings the slain teen sketched in his free time.
"He always gave me a kiss, he always told me he loved me when he got off the phone. He was just a good child," Taylor said.
"It's just..." Taylor added. "I don't know — it's just this neighborhood."
Taylor said she last saw her son before heading to work Tuesday morning as a mental health technician at two local hospitals.
"I go to work every day to make sure they have everything," Taylor said. "I teach my kids to take care of themselves and that the sky's the limit. It's like I'm just lost now."
Ricks spent most of his time outside of class making rap music with friends, his mother said, or working odd jobs through the neighborhood to make money.
Although he was behind in school, Ricks was committed to completing his diploma, Taylor said.
On Monday, Taylor said, she'd talked with her son about staying out of trouble and away from a rough crowd that hangs out in the neighborhood. But Taylor said Ricks had never been in serious trouble before.
She never heard her son leave the house in the hours before he was killed. Officers knocked on her door in the middle of the night to let her know her oldest son lay dead.
An 18-year-old man was found shot to death early Wednesday in the middle of a Baton Rouge st…
Police said they suspect there may be a number of additional witnesses to the shootings or their aftermath and asked anyone with information about either incident to call the Violent Crimes Unit at (225) 389-4869 or Crime Stoppers at (225) 344-7867.