Getty Images

Police in Baton Rouge, LA, have arrested a 23–year–old white man suspected of the racist–fueled killing of two black men this week.

According to the Associated Press, suspect Kenneth Gleason is being held on drug charges while authorities try to build a multiple homicide case against him.

“There is a strong possibility that it could be racially motivated,” Baton Rouge Sgt. L’Jean McKneely told the AP.

According to the report, the two shootings occurred on Tuesday and Thursday within five miles of each other this week. The first victim was Bruce Cofield, 59, who was homeless. The second victim was Donald Smart, 49, a father of three who was shot to death while walking to work at a popular café near Louisiana State University.


Suspect Kenneth Gleason. AP

These latest killings are part of a string of violence in Baton Rouge, population 229,000, that erupted in early July 2016 after two white police officers—Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake II—were captured on a 48–second video shooting to death black resident and father Alton Sterling at point-blank range while pinning him to the ground.


Less than two weeks later, Iraqi war veteran Gavin Long, 29, killed three police officers and wounded three others in an ambush–style attack, before he was killed by police. Investigators said the attack was payback for the killing of Sterling.

Then, a year later, one of the injured officers sued Black Lives Matter leaders DeRay Mckesson and Johnetta Elzie, claiming they had “incited the violence” against the Baton Rouge police officers and should be held responsible for the ambush.