Slidell Police Chief Randy Fandal said Thursday that a series of three shootings that claimed two lives last week stemmed from the actions of one person, 29-year-old Joshua Cox, who was fatally wounded himself before the incident was over.
"The common denominator in this ... is narcotics," Fandal said. "All this started over drugs, which led to bad, irrational decisions being made by Cox."
Cox's rampage began when he learned his 43-year-old mother had died from an apparent drug overdose Nov. 8, police said. He had asked his wife to drive him to the hospital to see his mother. But on the way, police said, the couple argued, and Cox shot his wife in the chest. He left her at the hospital around midnight.
She is still hospitalized but is expected to recover, Fandal said.
From there, police said, Cox fled down 11th Street, stopping in the 1500 block of Queens Drive, a quiet, middle-class neighborhood, where 38-year-old Christopher Evans was working on his girlfriend's Chevy Tahoe. Cox abandoned the black Kia that he had been driving and carjacked the Tahoe in what Fandal described as an effort to evade authorities.
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At some point, Fandal said, Cox shot Evans in the head, killing him, before driving into New Orleans with Evans' body inside the vehicle.
Police do not believe that Cox and Evans knew each other.
Slidell police had been searching for Cox, who was wanted for attempted manslaughter of his wife, but they didn't find him until 4:30 a.m. Nov. 9, when they responded to a report of gunfire at the Lee Street Apartments, a small complex in south Slidell near the area where Front Street becomes Pontchartrain Drive. Cox had been shot in the abdomen and died the following day.
Police said that Cox had gone to the apartment of 26-year-old Jamile Robinson with the intention of robbing or killing him, but Robinson shot Cox in apparent self-defense.
Cox was rushed to the hospital, but while police were investigating the crime scene, they discovered Evans' body in the Tahoe. The keys to the vehicle had been in Cox's pocket.
Fandal said that Evans was supposed to pick up his girlfriend when she got off work at midnight, but he never showed up, and she spent the night frantically searching for him.
The events show how communities and families can be ruined by narcotics, Fandal said, adding that Cox had likely been under the influence of drugs at some point during his crime spree.
The events were unusual for Slidell, which has seen only two other homicides this year, a woman accused of stabbing her aunt to death and the drowning of a child in a pool that resulted in his father's arrest for negligent homicide.
Fandal said it will be up to the 22nd Judicial District Attorney's Office to decide whether to charge Robinson with homicide in Cox's death. Robinson was booked with possession with intent to distribute cocaine and marijuana after drugs were discovered during the investigation, and also with being a felon in possession of a firearm.
Cox, who lived outside the city limits, had an extensive rap sheet, Fandal said, holding up a long print-out at a news conference. He described it as being "some of everything."
But 22nd Judicial District Court records don't show any recent convictions and only two violent crimes, a misdemeanor domestic violence/child endangerment charge in 2014 that was reduced to disturbing the peace and a second-degree battery charge, a felony, to which he pleaded guilty in 2007. He also had faced several drug charges and a theft charge in 2007. Another felony charge, possession of a firearm while in possession of drugs, was dropped.