GRETNA, LA (WVUE) - Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand detailed the reasons for releasing the man detained for questioning in the shooting death of former local football star Joe McKnight.
Ronald Gasser, the man questioned in McKnight's shooting death McKnight, was released overnight, according to the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office.
Investigators say the shooting happened at the intersection of Behrman Highway and Holmes Boulevard in Terrytown around 2:45 p.m. Thursday. The apparent road rage incident started on the Crescent City Connection, heading towards Jefferson Parish.
Normand said that out of an abundance of caution and respect to McKnight and Gasser, the investigation will not be tarnished by rumors or external forces.
"I can't control the social media networks," Normand said.
He said no story about the crime should be believed unless it comes from the sheriff's office, the coroner's office or the district attorney's office.
"It's what the evidence suggests, evidence reveals and evidence is," Normand said.
He added Gasser did not stand over McKnight and shoot him, as some witnesses suggested. He also said there is no video of the shooting that the sheriff's office has been able to recover. And also dispelled a rumor that McKnight was apologizing to Gasser when the former NFL star was shot.
He confirmed that McKnight did not have a weapon.
Gasser has not been charged, but the investigation is ongoing. Normand said, despite being out of jail, Gasser is not going anywhere and he has been "completely cooperative."
"We will leave no stone unturned. We've had as many as 30 to 40 officers work this case overnight," Normand said.
Normand said he would not block the Westbank Expressway. If protestors tried to block the roadway, he would have them arrested. He said his office does not have an issue with peaceful protests in designated areas.
"You will abide by the code of ordinance of Jefferson Parish... I am more than willing to work with you so you can get your message across," Normand said. "But it will not be to the detriment of the citizens of Jefferson Parish."
Coroner Gerry Cvitanovich said McKnight was shot in the hand. A bullet that struck him in the shoulder also punctured his lung. A shot to the chest entered McKnight's liver.
"The wounds are not consistent with being shot from above or while on the ground," Cvitanovich said.
Normand said Louisiana provides some statutes that provide protection for people who are involved in homicides, which is why Gasser was allowed to go free.
"Everyone wants to make this about race. This is not about race," Normand said. He said there is no evidence to suggest a hate crime.
He said McKnight's father is a former JPSO deputy.