Family and friends held a vigil Saturday evening (Dec. 3) for Joe McKnight at a gym in Kenner, where the slain football standout made a name for himself before playing for John Curtis Christian School, the University of Southern California and in the National Football League.
Ronald Gasser has admitted to killing McKnight on Thursday following what the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office has described as a "road rage" incident in Terrytown. He has yet to be charged in the fatal shooting.
Here are the latest developments as the JPSO investigation continues:
Lawmakers call for closer look at 'stand your ground' law
Hundreds of mourners. including McKnight's family, friends and teammates gathered inside the Lincoln Manner Gym in Kenner for a candlelight vigil . The gathering was attended also by a handful of elected officials, some of whom called on a renewed look at Louisiana's "stand your ground" law , which Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand said "looms on the horizon" as a factor in the investigation into the shooting.
Amid calls of support for the McKnight family, state Rep. Rodney Lyons, D-Harvey, and state Sen. Troy Carter, D-New Orleans, pledged "to find a way to look at these laws."
Reggie Bush will wear cleats honoring McKnight
Former New Orleans Saints and current Buffalo Bills running back Reggie Bush posted a photo of cleats he plans to wear Sunday that show McKnight's image and name emblazoned on each heel. McKnight, dubbed "the next Reggie Bush," arrived at Southern Cal one year after Bush left for the NFL as the No. 2 overall pick by the Saints in the 2006 NFL Draft.
A host of sports figures, including Saints players , have expressed dismay over McKnight's shooting and support his family. Athletes have taken to Twitter to express their outrage over the killing and police investigation, prompting observers to wonder how football players may react Sunday amid recent protests in which players have knelt during the national anthem .
Family and friends mourn, plead for answers
Prior to Saturday night's vigil, friends and supporters gathered Friday night at the intersection of Behrman Highway and Holmes Boulevard in Terrytown, where the fatal shooting took place. Amid prayers and words of respect for McKnight and his family, attendees demanded a more thorough explanation from the sheriff's office as to why Gasser had not been arrested.
"We are not protesting," said Gaylor Spiller, president of the West Jefferson Parish branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, during the vigil. "We are coming together to let our voice be heard in respect to answers. We need honest answers. It has happened too much for too long."
Admitted shooter remains free
As of Saturday night, no charges have been brought against Gasser, who was released Thursday night by the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office after questioning. The decision to release Gasser without pressing charges has prompted outrage on social media and questions of Louisiana's stand-your-ground by experts .
At a Friday press conference , Sheriff Normand countered a statement from a witness at the shooting scene Thursday who said Gasser stood over McKnight and shot him three times, execution-style. Normand said an autopsy conducted by the Jefferson Parish Coroner's Office shows bullets did not enter McKnight's body from a elevated position.
Officers at the scene discovered spent shell casings inside Gasser's car. It's evidence indicating that Gasser could not have been standing outside his car and over McKnight when he opened fire, the sheriff said.
Normand also called false a witness statement noting that McKnight had been in the act of apologizing when he was shot.
"I've been already accused of dropping the ball, of doing this and doing that, because we released Mr. Gasser last evening after we took his statement," Normand said Friday. "As I said before, external influences will not motivate this office one way or another as to how we are going to conduct this investigation strategically.
"People can Monday morning quarterback what we've done," he said. "Mr. Gasser is not going anywhere. He has been completely cooperative with us in every request that we've made. The issue at the end of the day is that we will do a very thorough and deliberate investigation."