Baton Rouge police on Tuesday arrested the alleged teenage gunman in the killing of an 18-year-old McKinley High School student, an up-and-coming rapper who was shot to death on Nebraska Street in early November, police said.
Trashone Coats, 17, of 1452 Duane St., gunned down Keondrae Ricks just after midnight on Nov. 2, less than a block from the home where the high school senior lived with his family, said Sgt. L'Jean McKneely, a police spokesman.
McKneely said Coats was booked into Parish Prison on a count of second-degree murder in Ricks' slaying. McKneely confirmed that a chain of shootings after Ricks' killing were related and in "retaliation" for his death.
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Coats was free on $5,000 bail at the time of the shooting after being arrested for possession of a stolen firearm traced back to the burglary of a Government Street pawn shop on July 9 that Baton Rouge law enforcement officials, during a nationally televised press conference, said may have been part of a "credible threat" to harm police.
The burglary occurred four days after Baton Rouge resident Alton Sterling was shot to death at a local convenience store during a struggle with two police officers. The shooting set off protests across the nation.
Officers arrested Coats July 10, the day following the burglary, after spotting him brandishing the handgun. Coats tried to run, according to a police report, but was caught not far away. Officers recovered two guns stolen from the pawn shop in the brush where Coats tried to hide them.
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He was charged with possession of a stolen firearm and is awaiting trial on that charge.
According to a warrant for his arrest, Coats planned to kill Ricks.
Kengar Taylor, Ricks' mother, said the night he was shot she came home from work to find him and his siblings asleep with his school uniform ironed and his book bag packed on the edge of his bed. She said after she went to bed, Ricks was baited by his shooter to come outside and that her son was riding his bike when he was shot.
When asked what motivation someone might have had to kill her son, she said the shooter could have incorrectly assumed he had money.
"They saw the way Keondre dressed," Taylor said. "Keondre was always on Instagram, flashing money. … Keondre didn't have any money. Keondre was always in the studio.”
McKneely confirmed that a spate of gunfire and shootings that rocked the Old South Baton Rouge neighborhood where Coats lived over the course of two days were in "retaliation" for Rick's Nov. 2 shooting death.
There were two shootings on Kentucky Street, one later Nov. 2 and one the next day, that left one person wounded in the neck.
Since Ricks’ death, many people have told Taylor that she and her other children should move away. She says she plans to leave Baton Rouge once her oldest daughter graduates from McKinley High School in May.
Taylor said the pain has been indescribable since her son’s death and that the event has caused some of her other children’s grades to drop and prompted behavioral issues.
“They robbed me of my child,” Taylor said. “He was so young and they took his dream from him. When he was rapping, you should’ve seen the expression on his face. … Two days after he died they played his music on the radio. (Then he got an offer to perform in Georgia.) … His dreams came true after he died.”
McKneely, the police spokesman, said that the case is still under investigation, and it is unclear if Coats and Ricks knew each other. He did say, however, that the community was especially "vital" in Coats’ arrest.
Coats was also booked on illegal use of weapons and dangerous instrumentalities.
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