JEFFERSON PARISH, LA (WVUE) - Deputies say a stray bullet from a shootout Tuesday night in Harvey claimed the life of 15-year-old Shamarie Joseph.
Joseph was inside an apartment, sitting on a sofa and watching TV when a round came through the wall and struck her in the chest. On Wednesday, the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office confirmed that Joseph was holding a 2-year-old child when bullets pierced the apartment building on Apache drive.
The child was not hurt, nut a 16-year-old boy standing outside at the time of the shooting was hit in the stomach.
Deputies arrested 18-year-old Romalis Levier. Investigators linked him to the shooting after witnesses said a blue Nissan Altima sped away from the scene, hitting another car in the process.
Sometime later, Levier's parents reported that blue Nissan Altima was riddled with bullet holes. Deputies said the parents told them their son borrowed the car to buy cigarettes.
During questioning, Levier told investigators he did not shoot first, saying he only returned fire when someone under a stairwell started shooting at him.
"We booked him with the hit and run that he admitted to, actually striking the other vehicle while leaving the neighborhood, but we are still actively investigating this and we are going to try to go where the evidentiary findings of the investigation take us," said sheriff's spokesman Col. John Fortunato.
Officers say Levier told them that the 16-year-old victim was the other shooter, but police have not yet made that connection.
"Apparently someone - we don't know if it's the 16-year-old as of yet - someone exchanged gunfire with Levier that he admitted someone shot at him and he returned fire," Fortunato said.
Shamarie Joseph's family member said she was a good student and hoped to attend LSU when she graduated.
12/23 UPDATE: 9:15 p.m.:
On Wednesday night, the JPSO said while they were waiting for a search warrant to be signed and executed at Levier's home, investigators saw a man identified as 22-year-old Bryan Smith arrive. Smith was taken to the Investigations Bureau for questioning but refused to cooperate. Investigators believe he had come to Levier's home to destroy evidence.
The execution of the search warrant resulted in the seizure of .22-caliber ammunition along with marijuana and pills.
Arrest warrants were issued for both Smith and Levier for conspiracy to commit obstruction of justice, possession of marijuana and possession of a controlled dangerous substance. Smith was booked into the Jefferson Parish Correctional Center. Levier, who was still in custody, was rebooked with the additional charges.