Location of gun inside Will Smith's vehicle will be critical, attorney says

Do moments before shooting matter?

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - New Orleans police say they found a loaded 9 millimeter gun inside Will Smith's vehicle. The department says it also found another gun inside shooting suspect Cardell Hayes' Hummer, in addition to the gun already confiscated by police.

"The key is, was the gun in the glove compartment? Was it in the center console? Or was it close to Will Smith's hands?" said FOX 8 legal analyst Joseph Raspanti.

NOPD detectives found the loaded 9 millimeter somewhere inside Smith's Mercedes SUV after executing a search warrant Tuesday morning. Raspanti said the location of the gun, is crucial to suspect Cardell Hayes' defense.

"If he's holding a gun, then they've got something to talk about," Raspanti said.

Hayes sits behind bars, accused of second-degree murder. From the beginning, his attorney claimed there was a second gun on the scene Saturday night when Smith was shot to death on Sophie Wright Place.

"Everybody out there felt threatened by someone other than Mr. Hayes," defense attorney John Fuller said Monday.

New video FOX 8 obtained Tuesday afternoon shows another angle of the alleged hit and run that occurred moments before Smith was killed. It involved a Hummer and Mercedes SUV,  vehicles matching the description of the ones Hayes and Smith were driving Saturday night before the shooting. The video shows the Hummer stop on Magazine Street because of the traffic stopped in front of him. Then, the Mercedes bumps into the Hummer, reverses slowly, then dodges into the opposite lane of traffic to get away while the Hummer pulls over. Moments later, a Mercedes followed by a Hummer passes the Half Moon bar just feet away. Police say the Hummer hit the Mercedes from behind, causing the Mercedes to bump into another car in front of it.
Words were exchanged between Smith and Hayes, and just before 11:30, shots rang out.

"When it sounded like it stopped, I walked down to the corner and it was kinda chaos, people running around - and I saw a woman lying on the side of the street," said Lower Garden District resident Wayne Latour.

Latour said he comforted Racquel Smith while she waited for an ambulance. She was shot twice in the leg and is expected to recover. Her account of what happened before and during the shooting will be critical.

"The whole crux of the case is the state of mind of the defendant, so what witnesses saw, what witnesses heard them say, is important," Raspanti said.

The revolver found by police Tuesday inside Hayes' vehicle was fully loaded. He had a passenger with him in the hummer Saturday night.

In a statement given to FOX 8 Tuesday night, Hayes' attorney, Jay Daniels, said he's hopeful recent revelations will spur a shift from the NOPD's previously stated goal of building a strong case against Mr. Hayes towards a thorough and fair investigation.

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