Suspected shooter in 9th Ward killings faced gun, other charges since 2012

Two men suspected in Sunday's deadly shooting in the Lower 9th Ward are now behind bars.

On Thursday, New Orleans police arrested 21-year-old Blair Taylor, the suspected gunman, and 25-year-old Jeffery Rivers, an alleged accomplice.

During an afternoon news conference, NOPD Supt. Ronal Serpas praised the investigation, but also spoke out in frustration over the suspects' rap sheets.

"If you are a young man in the city of New Orleans and you are involved in drugs and guns, the chances of you receiving a consequence appear to be none," Serpas said.

Serpas said Rivers has a prior gun arrest, but he focused most on the fact that Taylor was still on the streets at the time of the shooting Sunday.

"Despite the fact that [Taylor] had been arrested for carrying a gun with an obliterated serial number; despite the fact that he had been arrested for carrying a gun during a crime of violence or narcotics; despite the fact that he had been arrested for aggravated battery," Serpas said.

Police arrested Taylor three times over the past couple years.

According to Orleans District Attorney spokesman Chris Bowman, prosecutors lacked evidence to pursue a stolen vehicle charge in June 2012. Last June, the office threw out an aggravated battery charge when the alleged victim wouldn't cooperate, Bowman said.

However, the office did convict Taylor for illegal carrying of a firearm last year.

"It's a small subset of people who demonstrate, 'I'm going to carry a gun, and I'm going to be in the narcotics business and I'm going to thumb my nose at the criminal justice system because I'm going to show up for my tests, I'm going to show up for my bond hearing, I'm going to be hot for drugs, and I'm not going to go to jail.' I mean, these are the kind of things we have to confront as a community," Serpas said.

Now, though, Taylor faces first-degree murder charges, while Rivers faces principle to first-degree murder.

"These are some very significant charges and it is going to be important for us to bring this evidence together and secure convictions so that we can, as the chief said, keep these individuals off the streets forever and prevent them from hurting any other innocent people in this community," said Orleans District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro.

The shooting Sunday claimed the lives of 16-year-old Jazmine Anderson and 33-year-old Terrance McBride. Five others were injured, including two young children.

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