Sheriff defends releasing suspect in killing of ex-NFL player Joe McKnight

A sheriff in Louisiana confirmed Friday that investigators released the man who admitted he shot ex-NFL running back Joe McKnight in a road rage incident that left the athlete dead.

Jefferson Paris Sheriff Newell Normand told reporters he was confident the suspect, 54-year-old Ronald Gasser, was "not going anywhere. He has been completely cooperative." Gasser has not been charged.

McKnight "did not have a gun in his possession," Normand said.


Gasser and McKnight -- a star running back at USC who played four seasons in the NFL -- had been arguing after some kind of traffic incident outside New Orleans Thursday, according to the sheriff. He said there were no indications the shooting was a hate crime. "Everyone wants to make this about race. This is not about race."

Coroner Gerry Cvitanovich said that despite witness accounts, bullet trajectories suggested it was unlikely Gasser was standing over McKnight during the shooting. Three bullet casings turned up at the scene.

The Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office reported that the shooting happened shortly before 3 p.m. at a busy intersection in the New Orleans suburb of Terrytown.


WVUE reported that multiple witnesses saw a man in an Infiniti sedan pulled McKnight, 28, from his Audi and shot him more than once after an argument.

Witnesses said the shooter then waited for police to show up.

Normand added that Gasser turned in his weapon to officers before they took him into custody and questioned him. He was released some time overnight and no files were charged "as of yet," The Advocate reported.

In 2009, McKnight rushed for over 1,000 yards in his senior season at USC. He was drafted by the New York Jets in the fourth round of the 2010 NFL Draft and spent three seasons with the club before moving on to play two games for the Kansas City Chiefs during the 2014 season.

WVUE reported that McKnight had just completed his first season playing for the Canadian Football League's Saskatchewan Rough Riders.

McKnight is the second NFL player this year to die as a result of a possible road-rage incident. Saints player Will Smith was killed in April.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.