The shooting death of an 18-year-old at the hands of two LSU football players was likely self-defense as part of a robbery gone wrong, said Baton Rouge police and an attorney for the athletes.
The two players — running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire and walk-on linebacker Jared Small — were trying to sell an electronic item when Kobe Johnson pulled out a weapon and demanded the players' belongings, said Baton Rouge police spokesman Sgt. L'Jean McKneely.
One of the two players pulled out a handgun and shot Johnson multiple times, he said.
Edwards-Helaire and Small called 911 after the shooting and waited for police. Johnson, 2825 Kaufman St., was found dead in the back seat of a white truck in the 2900 block of 68th Avenue, McKneely said.
The LSU players were questioned and released Saturday without arrest, and, as of Sunday afternoon, McKneely said the case likely would go to the East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney's Office as a self-defense shooting.
A crowd of people met at Johnson's home Sunday, but the family declined to comment to The Advocate. The Kaufman Street house is about 500 feet from where the shooting happened.
Can't see video below? Click here.
Attorneys for the players also told The Advocate Saturday that the shooting happened in self-defense.
"We believe this is an act of self-defense, and the evidence will show that," said Christopher Murell, one of the three attorneys representing Edwards-Helaire and Small.
“This is a difficult process for everyone involved," Murell and fellow attorneys Ronald Haley and Dedrick Moore said in a written statement Sunday evening. "We are thankful to the police for their continuing diligent and thorough investigation. The evidence will show our clients’ actions were justified. Right now, we are focused on making sure they get the support and care they need.”
Edwards-Helaire and Small both are graduates of Catholic High School in Baton Rouge. The media attention surrounding the shooting spurred two of their former Catholic coaches to post on Twitter defending the players' character.
Dale Weiner, who is now retired but coached both men in their high school careers, tweeted Sunday morning that "if everyone's son was of the character of Clyde and Jared, there would be no violence in our streets."
The social media post was in response to Catholic's now-head coach Gabe Fertitta, who during Edwards-Helaire and Small's high school years was the offensive coordinator. In part, Fertitta said he was praying for all involved in the shooting, including Johnson.
"My (heart) hurts for Clyde and Jared," Fertitta's tweet reads. "Not sure the public and LSU fans truly understand how kind-hearted and sweet these two young men are. They went though an extremely tragic event."
The two posts were among dozens that flooded social media sites Sunday, as many defended the players and spoke to their character. Others questioned exactly what happened.
McKneely said police are still investigating the circumstances of the shooting. He said he did not know specifically what electronics item the players were selling nor who owned the firearm that was used. There are other details police are deliberately keeping from the public, including which of the two men fired the fatal shot, and specific details on the caliber of handgun used.