BATON ROUGE, La. – A man suspected in a shootout that left two Southern University students dead wasn't acting in self-defense when he fired on a fleeing gunman, Baton Rouge police said.
According to an arrest affidavit, Brandon Henderson, 25, fired the first shots in the air outside an apartment complex early April 10 but did not fire at any person in particular.
In response, Ernest Bernard Felton, 22, fired a Glock 9 mm handgun and advanced upon Henderson's vehicle as Henderson attempted to flee.
"This exchange was the first of two volleys of gunfire. Henderson reached a dead end within the apartment complex. Felton did not flee to safety at that time, as any reasonable person who feared for his life would. Thereby, Felton's actions negate any argument of self-defense. Instead, Felton further advanced, approximately 63 feet toward the dead end and Henderson's vehicle and waited for Henderson to turn the vehicle around," the affidavit said.
Witnesses said both 19-year-old students, Lashuntae Benton and Annette January, were unharmed to that point.
"Realizing there was no outlet, Henderson — who was out of ammunition — was forced to turn his vehicle around at the dead end and drive toward the area in which Felton was waiting. Felton then fired multiple rounds toward Henderson's vehicle as Henderson attempted to flee the complex; striking both Benton and January, who ultimately died from the gunshot wounds inflicted upon them by Felton."
Felton was arrested Friday on two counts of second-degree murder. He initially was arrested on an attempted-murder charge after police say he shot and wounded Henderson.
Felton also now faces a count each of illegal use of a weapon and obstruction of justice after he ditched his gun and texted to a witness: "Make sure they don't mention me," the report says, citing phone records.
Felton's new arrest comes a day after Henderson was arrested on two counts of second-degree murder and a count of illegal use of a weapon. It ends nearly two months of anticipation cited by the victims' families as to whether anyone would be directly blamed for killing the women.
Felton's attorney, Tommy Damico, told The Advocate (http://bit.ly/1WAiiXD ) Friday he was not surprised his client was accused of murder but said the counts are a mistake.
"When everything shakes out, it's gonna show that my guy was trying to protect people," Damico said.
The April 10 attack was touched off by a fist fight early that morning between members and friends of the Southern University track team on one side and Henderson's brother, Anthony Henderson, along with that man's girlfriend, on the other side, the report says.
Brandon Henderson admitted to firing the initial shots, all of which were in the air, emptying the six bullets in his Kel-Tech 9 mm handgun, according to the report.
"(Brandon) Henderson did not fire at any human being," the report alleges. "No person, vehicle or structure was shown to have been struck by any other projectiles other than those fired from a Glock brand firearm."
Police have not recovered either of the weapons. Anthony Henderson stashed his brother's gun under some bushes in the apartment complex, the report says, and Felton disposed of his firearm, possibly in response to a text he received eight minutes after the shooting, which read, "Throw it in the river," the report says, citing phone records.
Brandon Henderson's bail was set at $525,000, while Felton's was set at $517,500.