Eddieshawn “12 O’Clock” Smith surrendered to heavily armed Kenner police and U.S. marshals shortly after noon Friday with a knee on the ground and a baby in hand.
One week before he assumed that submissive pose, police say, Smith took a more aggressive stance at St. Claude Avenue and Lizardi Street in New Orleans. They allege he wielded an assault rifle as he and two other men took part in gunfire that littered the Lower 9th Ward’s streets with 59 shell casings and wounded three people.
Authorities have taken Smith, 36, and Janard Walton, 33, into custody and are searching for a third man, Jermaine Hulbert, 36.
New Orleans police believe the three acted in concert, and they are probing their ties to a group operating around Bonart Playground known as the Park Boys.
Police Cmdr. Christopher Goodly said the Lower 9th Ward is usually one of the quieter areas of his 5th District. But on the night of April 8, he said, an “order of chaos” overtook a tight area near St. Claude Avenue.
The violence started about 9:30 p.m. when a 33-year-old man was shot in the right shoulder in the 5100 block of St. Claude. He was taken to a hospital in a private vehicle, and according to Goodly, he has not cooperated with investigators.
Minutes later, according to police, someone shot up a house in the 1200 block of Andry Street, damaging property but injuring no one.
Finally, about 11:35 p.m., according to a police warrant, a “barrage of gunfire” erupted “between several subjects” in the 1100 block of Lizardi Street.
“Proximity-wise, and the time of occurrence, leads us to believe they may all be related to one another,” Goodly said of the three incidents.
The last shooting left spent shell casings “strewn” throughout the block, according to an incident report, and three people were wounded.
The first officer on the scene was flagged down by multiple people who pointed him to a man lying on the ground in the 1100 block of Lizardi with a gunshot wound to his stomach.
As an ambulance whisked away that 19-year-old man, officers got word that a 29-year-old woman and a 20-year-old man had arrived at Tulane Medical Center in a private vehicle, according to a police incident report and offense log.
The woman had been shot in her right cheekbone and the man had been shot twice in his left back shoulder, according to police. Both “refused to provide the officer with a statement,” police wrote in an incident report.
Back at the shooting scene, officers were “unable to locate any witnesses.” But they were able to collect information from the owners of seven shot-up vehicles at the scene.
Three days after the shooting, Detective Chad Cockerham obtained a warrant for the arrest of Walton. He said a subsequent investigation had uncovered “several witnesses” on the scene at the time of the shooting, including one who stated that he or she saw a man with the nickname of “Nardy” firing.
The witness identified Walton as one of the shooters from a photographic lineup, according to the warrant.
On April 13, Cockerham obtained a warrant for Smith’s arrest. A witness told the detective, according to the warrant, that a man known by the nickname of “12 O’Clock” was shooting at the scene with an assault rifle. Again, police said Smith was identified as the shooter from a photo lineup.
Police have released little information on the suspects’ motives, but at a departmental commanders meeting last week, Goodly said detectives were probing whether the shooting had anything to do with an internal dispute between members of the Park Boys.
Goodly, in an interview, stopped short of calling any of the three suspects named so far members of the group, which he said has been associated with shootings and drug dealing in the area.
However, he said, “pretty much nothing would go down of that magnitude without them having some kind of knowledge, and/or some level of probable participation. … They’re not going to recuse themselves. They’re just not.”
Walton was booked April 13 on three counts of being a principal to aggravated battery, illegal use of a weapon and possession of a weapon by a felon. He remained in jail Tuesday in lieu of $500,000 bail.
After being arrested in Kenner on Friday, Smith remained at the Orleans Justice Center on Tuesday on three counts of principal to aggravated battery and one count of illegal use of a weapon. His bail is $75,000.
Authorities have not publicly tied any of the suspects named so far to any of the individual shooting victims. Goodly said the investigation remains “fluid.”
Goodly has seen the picture of Smith surrendering with a child in hand. “Normal people don’t react in certain ways,” he said. “So that’s an abnormal reaction.”