• 43°

2 arrested after graduation party shooting; 4 guns used

LAPLACE — Two arrests have been made, and police are looking for two more possible suspects as they investigate a violent shooting that took place at a graduation party Saturday night at the LaPlace VFW Hall.

“We have evidence that four different weapons were fired,” St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff Mike Tregre said. “We have two (suspects) in custody right now that we can actually tie to the VFW shooting. The other two guns means there are two more shooters, and we’re still trying to piece that together.”

Ronte Murray

Ronte Murray

Tregre said the only motive detectives have determined “for all of this gunplay is an argument.”

Kendrick Jones Jr.

Kendrick Jones Jr.

When the shooting subsided at the party attended by approximately 200 people, three females — ages 22, 21, and 15 — were shot. Each was hospitalized, authorities said, adding the victim in the most serious condition has been upgraded to stable condition.

Over the course of the investigation, detectives identified Ronte Murray, 18, of LaPlace and Kendrick Jones Jr., 18, of Lutcher as suspects in connection with the shootings.

Detectives arrested Murray Tuesday afternoon and booked him with attempted second-degree murder.

Jones was arrested in St. James Parish Thursday and transferred to the St. John the Baptist Parish Sherman Walker Correctional Center Friday. Detectives booked Jones with illegal use of a weapon.

Pending additional findings in the ongoing shooting investigation, additional arrests are possible, Tregre said.

The case began after Sheriff’s Office deputies responded to the LaPlace VFW Hall on West Fifth Street in LaPlace at 11:32 p.m. Saturday after multiple victims were reported shot.

Tregre described the gathering as a local high school graduation party attended by approximately 200 people.

Tregre said the victims were caught in a crossfire and not the intended targets, adding a fight had begun, which led to the shooting.

Police said this week that Durell Fleming, 34, of New Orleans participated in an armed robbery earlier Saturday and was later caught in possession of an AK-47 leaving the scene of the shooting at the VFW.

“We’re trying to tie him into the VFW shooting,” Tregre said. “He has not been officially charged with (that shooting).”

Anyone with information regarding the shooting is encouraged to call the St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff’s Office TIPS line at 985-359-TIPS or Crimestoppers at 504-822-1111.

Those who call Crimestoppers do not have to testify and may qualify for a cash reward. Tips can be submitted online stjohnsheriff.org/submitatip.php.