Lacking sufficient evidence for murder charges against Kenneth Gleason — the man Baton Rouge police questioned about two apparently random, possibly racially motivated killings — his bond was set Sunday evening at $3,500 only on drug possession counts.
As of 9 p.m. Sunday, Gleason had not posted bond and remained in jail.
Gleason, 23, who was taken into custody Saturday, remains a person of interest in the two homicides — one Tuesday and the other Thursday that occurred some five miles apart and both between 10:45 p.m. and 11:15 p.m., said Baton Rouge Police Department spokesman Sgt. L'Jean McKneely. In both killings, the shooter was wearing dark clothes, including possibly a tactical vest and carrying a 9-mm handgun.
Both happened under similar circumstances: The gunman shot a lone pedestrian from inside a red "small, older sedan with shiny rims" and then exited the vehicle and "shot them to death," according to an internal Baton Rouge police bulletin that was disseminated to Louisiana law enforcement. Both victims were black men with no known prior relationship to Gleason, who is white.
"We believe (the shootings) could possibly be racially motivated," McKneely said Sunday. However, he noted that investigators are still exploring other possibilities, both including and excluding Gleason.
Shell casings matched from the two killings and Gleason's car fit the description police were searching for, McKneely said. He mentioned there is other circumstantial evidence but declined to elaborate because the investigation is ongoing.
Detectives on Saturday searched Gleason's home at 5144 Sandy Ridge Drive, where he lived with his parents. They found marijuana and human growth hormones in his bedroom and bathroom, noting he did not have valid prescriptions for the drugs, according to his arrest report.
State District Judge Trudy White set bond at $3,500 Sunday evening, according to the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office. Information about whether he posted bond was not immediately available.
Gleason grew up in Baton Rouge and graduated cum laude from Baton Rouge Magnet High School, a selective program often referred to as the city's flagship public school.
He became an Eagle Scout in September 2012, completing a construction project at St. John's United Methodist Church to earn the title — an achievement shared by only about 5 percent of all Boy Scouts, according to the organization.
Gleason attended LSU for one year starting in the fall of 2012. LSU spokesman Ernie Ballard said a student under that name transferred from Baton Rouge Community College and continued through the fall 2013 semester.
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Bradley Guin was Gleason's freshman year roommate and currently is in his second year of law school at LSU. Guin said Gleason was a little mysterious — mostly "kept to himself" and didn't appear to socialize often. Guin also recalled Gleason receiving a citation for marijuana possession while at school.
Having met some of Gleason's family members when he moved in, Guin said, they seemed "very normal."
One family friend who declined to give his name described Gleason's parents as "hardworking people" and said he was shocked at the possibility Gleason could have carried out such violent acts.
His parents and other family members did not respond to requests for comment Sunday.
Neighbors said undercover detectives and police officers converged on the Gleason family home Saturday evening with about eight vehicles. None said they knew Kenneth Gleason well but mostly saw him walking to and from his car, which he often parked in front of his family's modest brick home where they had lived for several years.
Gleason apparently was not active on social media. Neither was he publicly connected to any hate groups or other racist organizations, according to a spokeswoman with the Southern Poverty Law Center.
The first of the two possibly linked shootings occurred Tuesday night when Bruce Cofield, 59, was shot to death in the 3400 block of Florida Street. He was homeless. The second happened Thursday night when Donald Smart, 49, was gunned down walking to work in the 3000 block of Alaska Street.
Two of Gleason's cousins told The Associated Press they couldn't believe he had anything to do with the killings. "He had no problems with any person," said Garrett Sing, 37. "He had black friends, white friends, Asian friends. He made friends with anyone."
Editor's note: This story was updated after publication to correct information provided by LSU about Gleason's attendance at the university.