Sympathy, frustration expressed at vigil for Joe McKnight

Sympathy, frustration expressed at vigil for Joe McKnight

TERRYTOWN, LA (WVUE) - Friday night, nearly 100 people gathered at the site in Terrytown where Joe McKnight, 28, was shot and killed Thursday afternoon.

Though the event swelled with sympathy and compassion for the victim and his family, frustrations also boiled over.

"We don't have any answers," Jefferson Parish NAACP's Gaylor Spiller said. "We are listening to this and that. There's no facts nor concretes. We would like answers."

"It is frustration because it seems as if the more things change the more they stay the same," vigil attendee Patrick Lee said.

The crowd remembered the life of McKnight, but those in attendance also voiced their dismay over the fact that no charges have been brought against the man Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand says shot and killed McKnight.

"This investigation is not going to be moved, influenced, coerced, changed in any way by any external force, comments or otherwise," Normand said.

Friday afternoon, Normand announced that he had released McKnight's accused killer, Ronald Gasser, 54, after looking over the initial evidence and statements from witnesses and Gasser.

Investigators say the incident between Gasser and McKnight started on the Crescent City Connection and ended at the intersection of Behrman Highway and Holmes Boulevard. The two men exchanged words, and the sheriff says Gasser shot three times from inside his vehicle, then stayed on the scene, admitting to police he was the shooter.

"This will be done in the appropriate way," Normand said.

Normand asked the community not to rush to judgment until the investigation is complete, but for many, that explanation is not enough.

"I'm just trying to understand, is it the word of the shooter we are taking because the dead cannot speak for themselves? So that's why we're out here right now. So we can speak on his behalf," Mothers2Mothers' Ashonta Wyatt said.

"I hope and pray that our leaders let it be known that this has to stop. At some point, we have to let everybody know that this is ridiculous and it has to stop, and by no means should we let this go," Lee said.

As many search to find out what exactly took place between McKnight and Gasser, at the moment, the only thing that's been revealed is a sheriff's investigation without enough evidence to pursue charges and a community struggling to understand why.

Local NAACP groups plan to demonstrate Monday in reaction to the investigation into McKnight's death.

Jefferson Parish Councilman Mark Spears, so far the only council member to speak publicly about the incident, released the following statement Friday:

"As we continue to mourn the lost for Joe McKnight, I ask that we remember to keep his family in our prayers. I have spoken with Sheriff that the community needs answers. While I continue to wait for more facts, I cannot help but be disappointed by another black male that has been taken away from his family so early.

"As always, my office will be remain vigilant in our search for answers and seek justice."

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