A 23-year-old white man was arrested Tuesday and accused of cold-bloodedly killing two black men and shooting up a black family’s home in a string of attacks last week that police say may have been racially motivated.
A law enforcement official said authorities found a handwritten copy of an Adolf Hitler speech at Kenneth James Gleason’s home, and investigators said surveillance footage and DNA on a shell casing link him to the crimes.
In each case, the killer opened fire from his car, then walked up to the victim as he lay on the ground and fired again repeatedly, police said.
Gleason’s attorney, J. Christopher Alexander, said his client “Vehemently denies guilt, and we look forward to complete vindication.” Authorities found the Hitler speech during a search over the weekend, according to the law enforcement official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation was still going on.
Authorities also said that just after midnight on Sept. 10, Gleason fired into the home of a black family who lived three houses down from Gleason and his parents.
Stephens said her family had seen Gleason sleeping in his car or speeding down the street, but she never had any dealings with him and “I never paid him any mind.” In the other shootings, neither victim had any connection to Gleason, investigators said.
They said DNA found on one of the shell casings matched genetic material on a swab they took from Gleason.
Investigators have not found the 9 mm gun but said Gleason bought such a weapon last November.
The company reported the suspicious activity to police and followed up with them after the second shooting, giving authorities surveillance video and photographs.
Investigators found Gleason’s red car on Saturday.
“Baton Rouge has been through a lot of turmoil in the last year,” the police chief said.
If not for Gleason’s arrest, “He could have potentially created a tear in the fabric that holds this community together.” Racial tensions escalated in the city in the summer of 2016 when a black man was shot to death by white police officers outside a convenience store.
About two weeks later, a black gunman targeted police in an ambush, killing three officers and wounding three before he was shot to death.
Gleason did not appear to have any active social media profiles.
Gleason was arrested in Phoenix in December on charges of shoplifting wine and razors.
During the search of Gleason’s home, authorities also found 9 grams of marijuana and vials of human growth hormone, according to police.