NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - The man accused of killing 20-year-old Milan Arriola on Friday night was the prime suspect in a 2012 shooting that left five people wounded on Gov. Nicholls Street, according to District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro.
Will Reed faces second-degree murder after police say he shot Arriola while she was riding in a car in Gentilly.
"In March of 2012, Will Reed was accused of approaching eight individuals who were engaged in playing dice. He fired approximately 14 rounds from a gun at these individuals, five of the individuals were struck," Cannizzaro said.
All five victims lived, but Cannizzaro says none of the victims or witnesses would cooperated with police until months later, when one came forward and told police Reed was the trigger man.
Police booked Reed with eight counts of attempted murder for the 2012 shooting.
But when his trial was set to begin, the witness recanted and told police he lied when he said Reed was responsible, Cannizzaro said. The DA's office lowered the charge to aggravated battery. Reed pleaded guilty and was sentenced to three years.
Cannizzaro says having witnesses recant statements or fail to come forward is all too common.
"About 50 percent of the people who are the victims or who are the witnesses to violent criminal activity in this community do not cooperate with law enforcement or the district attorney's office," he said. "It makes our jobs very difficult, and it makes New Orleans a very unsafe place."
"Until we step out and make a change, this unfortunately will happen again," Silence is Violence Executive Director Tamara Jackson said.
Reed was released on Feb 3 of this year, according to court records.
Arriola is the daughter of a police officer and a fire fighter and the niece of beloved New Orleans musician Kermit Ruffins.
"I just never think a youngster is capable of doing stuff like that," Ruffins said. "It's so sad because those kids are 20 years old. My family was never intertwined with anything like that. So sorry that she was in the wrong place at the wrong time."
NOPD detectives say Arriola was an innocent bystander and not Reed's intended target.
Arriola's family has set up a fundraiser in her name to pay for funeral costs.