The man who gunned down NFL and USC running back Joe McKnight was arrested Monday on a manslaughter charge, according to online records.
Ronald Gasser was arrested on one count of manslaughter, Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand announced Tuesday morning, during an emotional, rant-filled press conference where he scolded protesters who demanded an earlier arrest.
Protests and outrage broke out countrywide after Gasser, 54, was questioned but not charged after the Thursday shooting. On Tuesday, Normand defended his office’s move to charge Gasser later rather than sooner.
“Justice has no time period,” he said. “Justice is not a sprint. It is a marathon. These investigations are marathons.”
Gasser was released from custody Friday morning, despite Jefferson Parish (La.) Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Colonel John Fortunato announced that the incident would “remain under investigation.”
Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand said on Friday that the shooting in Terrytown, La., was “the culmination of a road rage incident” after Gasser and McKnight got into an argument that — allegedly sparked after one of the drivers cut the other off — lasted for several blocks until McKnight pulled over and got out of his car.
Gasser fired at McKnight at least three times from inside his own car, police said, shooting McKnight in the chest, shoulder and hand.
Gasser stayed seated in his car as medics on the scene tried to revive the 28-year-old former football player. When police arrived, Gasser handed over a semi-automatic handgun to the officers who responded to the shooting before confessing to killing the other driver, police said. Gasser’s cooperation with the investigation factored into the initial decision to release him without charges, authorities have said.
But many were outraged after learning that despite his “cooperative demeanor” that Thursday’s fatal incident occurred at the same intersection where Gasser allegedly assaulted another motorist in February 2006.
“During this incident, the victim/reporting person, identified only as a 51-year-old white male from Marrero, called 911 in Jefferson Parish to report that a male subject was driving a red pick-up truck unsafely on Holiday Drive,” according to a news release from the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office. “The victim observed a phone number on the truck to call if the vehicle was being operated unsafely. When the victim called the phone number, an individual, later identified as Ronald Gasser, told the victim he was the one driving the red pickup truck.”
Gasser followed the man to a gas station where he allegedly struck the man several times. Gasser was charged with battery, although the charge was later dropped.
“If people don’t think that we know what we’re doing strategically: Tough. I don’t care,” Normand said. “I can put my head on the pillow every night knowing that we did the right thing for the right reasons.”
McKnight was selected in the fourth round of the 2010 NFL draft by the New York. He played for the Jets and Kansas City Chiefs, both as a running back and kick returner. McKnight, 28, retired from the NFL in 2014 after an Achilles tendon injury.
Condolences to the family of Joe McKnight.
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