An Algiers preacher who once wore the NOPD badge shot a burglary suspect and was arrested on one count of aggravated battery by shooting, New Orleans police said Thursday afternoon.
Police said 62-year-old William Littleton, who goes by the Rev. W.L.T. Littleton in the community, surrendered to Fourth District detectives and was later booked at Central Lockup in New Orleans.
Interim NOPD Superintendent Michael Harrison told reporters that Littleton admitted he opened fire on two suspects who were trying to steal copper from a church building in the 1200 block of Vallette Street on Wednesday.
"Me and my daughter were sitting out here and I hear a bunch of shots. I didn't count them and I started backing in the house," said Paul Reed, who lives in the neighborhood and is in a wheelchair.
"And we came outside, and we looked down the street and we saw the police around the church," said Clarence Henry, another resident.
Harrison talked to reporters about Littleton's involvement in the shooting not long before the arrest was announced.
"Littleton told the officers he had observed subjects stealing copper from an air conditioning system that belong to his church and the snowball stand. Littleton also advised the officers that he ordered the subjects to stop while holding them at gunpoint," said Harrison.
Littleton reacted when he said the men tried to flee in a truck.
"Littleton told the officers he fired shots in the direction of the subjects, shortly thereafter the off-duty officer located a subject at the intersection of L.B.Landry and Diana Streets," said Harrison.
Investigators said 50-year-old Rodney Mitchell was shot in the head. The other suspect, 34-year-old Joseph Cross, was arrested and booked with theft of copper.
"NOPD detectives took Littleton to headquarters for questioning," said the chief before Littleton's arrest.
"It wasn't no surprise, because, you know, he used to be police," Reed said of the minister.
"I grew up in that church," said a stunned Henry.
Henry knows the neighborhood well.
"There's no life in that part of the block, so they figured that they could slip in and do their dirt, but my man was rolling, pastor was rolling and he rolled up on them," Henry said. "I'm just surprised to hear how he took care of it, the way that I would have, but figured he would have higher standards, but he had to do what he had to do."