PASS CHRISTIAN -- Persons of interest identified since the deadly shooting Feb. 7 after a Mardi Gras parade could be the shooters or witnesses, a police official said in giving an update on the investigation.
Investigators have identified persons of interest and are working with the District Attorney's Office to bring the shooters to justice, Police Chief Tim Hendricks said Thursday. Probable cause is needed to determine who are "the actual suspects" as opposed to who has knowledge of what happened, he said.
"We believe we are getting closer every day to holding individuals accountable," Hendricks said.
Two men, who police said were bystanders hit by random bullets, died at the scene and four people were wounded when gunfire erupted 15 minutes after the St. Paul Carnival Association parade had ended. An estimated 50,000 people had come to the parade and more than 1,000 were around Davis Avenue and Ladnier Street when shots were fired, causing hundreds of people to scramble for safety.
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Police have arrested eight people as part of related investigations, but none has been identified as a shooter.
"We don't want to hurry up and make an arrest just to make an arrest," Hendricks said. "We're looking at the long term, the culmination of prosecution. Justice."
Hendricks said he's disappointed people who were at the scene and have knowledge of the shooting have not come forward.
"Some are probably scared," he said, "but we want to bridge that gap."
Others, he said, have given "bad information" to keep the focus off themselves.
"We are appalled by the cowardly acts of the individuals involved, along with those who have direct information who have not come forward," he said.
Isaiah "Winky" Lee Major III, 43, of Bay St. Louis, and Carlos "Los" Bates, 29, of Gulfport, were the two shot to death.
"The two men who lost their lives didn't have anything to do with it," Hendricks said.
Hendricks had previously identified the wounded as a 29-year-old man shot three times -- twice in the leg and once in the arm; a 23-year-old man shot in the chest; and a 23-year-old woman and a 22-year-old man each shot in the leg.
Hendricks declined to say if any of the wounded were involved in the shooting.
"There are certain things that cause us to focus on certain individuals," he said. "We don't want to compromise our investigation or the prosecution by giving out information too soon."
An attorney has identified Charles Johnson as the person shot three times. Johnson has since been arrested on a federal probation warrant. Two others taken into custody are held on state probation warrants.
Johnson's mother has been accused of hindering prosecution, allegedly by taking his bloody clothes out of a hospital.
Two people arrested face charges involving the alleged distribution of marijuana. Two others are accused of having a stolen firearm.
Hendricks said the probe has narrowed.
"We're committed to seeing this through and in getting justice," he said. "We don't want these families to feel like they're all alone and nothing is being done. We want them to realize a lot is being done. What, we just can't say yet.
"We want to get justice for our community, victims and families who were affected by this senseless act of violence. Our hearts and prayers continue to go to these families."
To give a tip
Police still want to hear from people with information, and to obtain copies of any videos filmed just before, during or after the shooting.
To give a tip, call police at 452-3301 or email video to firstname.lastname@example.org. Video also can be emailed through an anonymous email account, Hendricks said, or a copy of a video can be left at the police station in an envelope.See videos and pictures from after the shootingnote>