Jailhouse phone call lands shooting suspect’s girlfriend behind bars _lowres

Ashley Shorts

New Orleans police threw the book at Ashley Shorts after they heard her discussing the “hammer.”

Shorts, 25, was arrested Monday on a count of conspiracy to commit obstruction of justice after a recorded jailhouse phone call caught her and Blair Taylor, her boyfriend and one of two alleged gunmen in last week’s Lower 9th Ward mass shooting, discussing what happened to the “hammer” — street slang for a gun — that was used in that incident.

According to court documents, the conversation happened about 1:40 p.m. Aug. 14, the same day Taylor, 23, was arrested and booked on two counts of first-degree murder and five counts of attempted first-degree murder.

“Is the hammer still in the kitchen?” Taylor asked Shorts.

“No,” she replied.

“Where it at? You brought it somewhere?” Taylor asked.

“No, I ain’t had a chance,” she said.

“Where it at?” Taylor asked again.

“They got it,” Shorts said, apparently referring to police.

“Ahh, man,” Taylor said before ending the call.

That call happened about the same time then-Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas announced Taylor’s arrest and said the murder weapon had been recovered and ballistically connected to the shooting in the 5400 block of Burgundy Street that killed 16-year-old Jasmine Anderson and 33-year-old Terrance McBride and wounded five others, including two brothers, ages 2 and 4.

The boys remain hospitalized while their mother, who also was shot, has been released.

Police have said McBride was the intended target and that the shooting stemmed from a heroin-related feud.

According to an application for an arrest warrant, police found the Smith & Wesson 9mm gun hidden above a set of cabinets in the kitchen of a New Orleans East apartment where Taylor and Jeffery Rivers were arrested.

Rivers, 25, is suspected of supplying Taylor with the car and gun used during the shooting. He was booked with two counts of being a principal to first-degree murder and five counts of principal to attempted first-degree murder.

Police on Monday arrested a second suspected gunman, 23-year-old Joseph Nelson, after a witness with what police called “firsthand knowledge” of the shooting identified him as one of the shooters after viewing a photographic lineup.

All four suspects remained jailed Wednesday, according to court documents.

Taylor, Nelson and Rivers each have had bail denied on the murder counts.

Bail for Shorts’ count of obstruction of justice was set at $20,000, but she was being held on an outstanding warrant from Gretna, according to jail records. She is wanted in Gretna on traffic violations, according to the Gretna Police Department.

Taylor, meanwhile, was rearrested and booked on a count of aggravated battery after he and another inmate got into a fight the same day he was arrested on the murder counts. According to court documents, he grabbed a wooden cane from another inmate and swung it at his assailant during the fight.

Follow Danny Monteverde on Twitter, @DCMonteverde.