All suspects in French Quarter attack in custody

Published: Jun. 28, 2017 at 10:17 AM CDT|Updated: Jun. 28, 2017 at 7:59 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - The third and fourth suspects in a violent attack on two tourists in the French Quarter are in custody.

Rashaad Piper, 20, was booked into the Orleans Parish Jail around 4 a.m. Wednesday. Nicholas Pogozelski, 18, was also taken into custody shortly after 6 a.m. Wednesday and also booked on a charge of second-degree robbery. Piper is charged with second-degree robbery in connection with a violent Saturday night attack on two tourists in the 200 block of Bienville Street.

Pogozelski's mother spoke to the media for the first time Wednesday. She said her son was a smart boy who left home late last month after he began stealing. She said he knows better. She asked that we not show her face or use her name.

"He needs to be held accountable for what he's done," she said. "I'm not going to condone violence, but I will keep up what's going on with him just to make sure his legal rights are violated and that he's not gonna get messed over I will make sure of that, but I'm not going to condone violence, and he won't get any bail money from me. I'm not going to support him, I'm just not gonna do it."

The first two suspects to be arrested by the NOPD were 21-year-old DeJuan Paul, who police say was the main aggressor and 18-year-old Joshua Simmons.

"We told you all along we knew their names, we knew who they were, and last night Joshua Simmons was arrested with the help of a citizen who alerted us to his location," said New Orleans Police Department Superintendent Michael Harrison.

Paul and Simmons both face a charge of second-degree robbery, but prosecutors say that could be upgraded to homicide.

"I think that's a starting point for the D.A.'s office. I think they're also going to be charged with possibly attempted murder and possibly first-degree murder, unfortunately, if this gentleman doesn't pull through so there's just so many ways the D.A. can go with this charge. That that's the starting point, but it won't be the ending point," said Fox 8 legal analyst, Joe Raspanti.

Dejuan Paul, 21, and 18-year-old Joshua Simmons, both former residents of Covenant House, are already in custody. They sat side-by-side in magistrate court as a judge ordered them held without bond until another hearing on Friday, a move supported by Harrison.

"I do. This was a heinous act. It speaks to their propensity to do more, so I agree with that," said Harrison.

Prosecutors argued that tourist Tim Byrne, who was hit in the back of the head by attackers Saturday night, was in extremely critical condition, but the chief said there has been some physical improvement.

"He has somewhat improved, off the ventilator and breathing on his own, but he can't fully engage as we need. He's improved but still critical," said Harrison.

Harrison did not have an update on the victim's condition during a Wednesday morning press conference.

Paul turned himself in after visiting a pastor at Mount Kingdom Missionary Baptist Church Monday night. When he was arrested, he had two bags of a powdery white substance in his pocket and he also faces drug charges. Paul had an outstanding warrant for an out-of-state crime.

In a statement, Covenant House Director Jim Kelly said:

"Covenant House cares for runaways and homeless youth-- many of whom are troubled and suffer from mental illness. We are deeply saddened by the incident and are praying for the victims and their families."

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