Suspect in Will Smith's death being held on $1-million bond as investigation continues

Suspect in Will Smith's death being held on $1-million bond as investigation continues
Published: Apr. 11, 2016 at 2:35 AM CDT|Updated: Jun. 29, 2016 at 8:57 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Shot multiple times to his back and torso, former Saint Will Smith died inside his SUV Saturday night. Now, police work to piece together the investigation after what appears to be a road rage incident, turned deadly, as the suspect sits behind bars.

At 11:30 Saturday night. New Orleans police were called to the intersection of Sophie Wright Place and Felicity Street for a report of shots fired.

NOPD Supt. Michael Harrison explains, "When we arrived, we located Mr. Smith partially inside his vehicle, suffering from multiple gunshot wounds to his body."

Smith was shot in the back and torso. He died on the scene. His wife, Racquel was shot in the leg.

According to a source, Smith and his wife were traveling from Sake Cafe on Magazine Street towards the Windsor Court when the shooting took place.

Harrison says, "As they were approaching Felicity Street, their vehicle was hit in the rear by an orange Hummer H2 which caused their vehicle to hit the rear of a gray Chevy Impala."

Police say 28-year-old Cardell Hayes drove the Hummer. He allegedly got out of his vehicle and exchanged words with Smith before opening fire.

"We're not ready to talk about motive, we're not ready to talk about how or why this happened," Harrison said.

Hayes appeared before a judge Sunday evening at magistrate court where his bond was set at $1 million. His attorney, John Fuller, says Hayes wasn't the aggressor in this incident and wants toxicology tests performed on everyone involved.

"There may have been an earlier accident that night in which one of the parties sped off and my client followed in an attempt to get the information," Fuller stated.

Moments later, the shooting took place. Hayes stayed on the scene and waited for police to arrive.

"Not only did my client call 911, but my client secured a witness who was about to leave the scene and my client waited for law enforcement to arrive. Now tell me if that's the behavior of someone or consistent with someone that's an animal out here looking for blood," Fuller said.

Before the shooting, Smith and his wife were joined at dinner by a number of friends, including former Saint Pierre Thomas and retired NOPD Officer Billy Ceravolo. Ceravolo was named in a civil lawsuit Hayes filed against the city after NOPD officers shot and killed his father. Yet, John Fuller says Hayes and Ceravolo didn't know each other. Chief Harrison adds he doesn't think that had anything to do with this shooting.

"At this time we don't have any information to suggest that they knew one another or that this is anything other than an accident that turned into a dispute that turned violent," Harrison said.

Police say the people inside the Chevy Impala, the car Smith's vehicle ran into after being rear-ended by Hayes, were his friends. The chief says one gun was recovered from the scene, the weapon allegedly used by Cardell Hayes.

Copyright 2016 WVUE. All rights reserved.