Hundreds Riot in La. City After Drug-Related Killing
Hundreds of people in a predominantly black neighborhood, angered after a white woman allegedly killed a black man in a drug deal, rioted for five hours, burning buildings and cars and shooting at police and firefighters, authorities said today.
Two buildings and several vehicles in the Cedar Grove neighborhood were burned, and an estimated 50 shots were fired at police and firefighters by members of the mob who also hurled rocks, bricks and bottles, police said.
The violence started with the shooting of William McKinley in A. B. Palmer Park, a well-known haven for drug dealing, about 9:45 p.m. Tuesday. Police arrested two white women and took them into an adjacent Pack & Sack convenience store Tuesday night. One of them, Tamala C. Vergo, 17, was later booked on a charge of second-degree murder, according to police records.
“There was a drug transaction or a proposed drug transaction that went bad, and it resulted in a shooting, and that’s when the young man was shot,” said Police Sgt. Don Ashley.
A man who identified himself as a cousin of the shooting victim said McKinney was a bystander to a drug deal that went sour.
‘They Were Throwing Bottles’
After police made the two arrests, a crowd gathered outside the store and quickly grew into the hundreds with the mob demanding that the women be brought out, police said.
“That’s when the riot happened,” said Reba White, who was in the store at the time. “They were throwing bottles and anything that was there. I’ve never seen anything like it before.”
The convenience store, a liquor store and several vehicles, including White’s car and a television news car, were burned by the mob.
An army of law enforcement officers moved into the neighborhood about 2:45 a.m. to disperse the crowd, and police cordoned off a 10-block area.
Fire Department officials let the buildings burn after members of the crowd shot at a fire truck as firefighters tried to put out the fires.
Police Chief Hit by Debris
Police did not return the fire, said Police Chief Charles Gruber, who was hit by flying debris but not injured.
“We chose to let it cool off,” he said. “We felt our presence would do nothing but escalate it.”
At least four people were arrested on charges ranging from resisting arrest to inciting to riot.
McKinney, 20, died at 12:12 a.m. of a gunshot wound to the head, Police Sgt. Rick Ware said.