Four arrested in ambush killing of IHOP employee; 5th suspect still on the run
BATON ROUGE - Four people were arrested in a shooting that killed an IHOP employee just outside the restaurant on Siegen Lane, and investigators say they are still searching for a fifth suspect.
Two Zachary men, a third adult female suspect and a juvenile were booked into the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison overnight. Authorities identified the two adult male suspects as Melvin Brooks Jr., 21, and Tyrese Keller, 20.
According to arrest documents, detectives with the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office are still searching for another male suspect, Trevell Jarrell.
Investigators believe Jarrell and the juvenile, identified by sources Friday as Najee Skipper, shot the two IHOP employees May 25 with the help of Brooks and Keller. One of the victims, Courtney Whitfield, died at the scene. The other worker was seriously wounded but survived.
Official documents state that video surveillance and eyewitness accounts helped deputies identify the suspects.
Deputies also learned Shermane Molden, a female friend of Brooks who's also facing charges, traveled to IHOP with Brooks, Jarrell, and Keller that morning. Molden owned the silver Hyundai the shooters used to scope out the Baton Rouge restaurant, and she later confirmed that she allowed the suspects to use her car again later that day.
After a brief stop at IHOP, the two dropped Molden off at a Baton Rouge apartment. Investigators said Jarrell and Skipper then used a stolen blue Toyota Matrix to go back to IHOP and carried out the shooting around noon.
Detectives say video surveillance showed Jarrell and his juvenile accomplice, both in the blue Toyota, sitting in a parking lot adjacent to IHOP for about half an hour until the two employees exited the restaurant for a break. At that point, officials said the two gunmen pulled up to IHOP and fired multiple shots at the employees.
Video surveillance then caught the Toyota fleeing the parking lot. The car was later found engulfed in flames along Hidden Ridge Lane, a neighborhood located just a few miles from the site of the shooting.
Arrest documents said video surveillance from the neighborhood shows the two suspects running away from the vehicle and heading west. The two were seen getting into Molden's silver Hyundai Elantra in a nearby church parking lot.
The two then picked Molden up from the apartment where they had dropped her off that morning, according to arrest records.
An intensive investigation that involved multiple interviews with individuals who'd been eyewitnesses of the deadly shooting and others who were tied to the crime led authorities to an arrest Thursday night, June 24, at a home along Flonacher Road.
Keller, Brooks, and Molden were booked into East Baton Rouge Parish Prison on charges of first-degree murder.
Molden was released from custody on June 26.
Skipper, the juvenile, was also arrested on charges of first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, simple arson, obstruction of justice, and illegal possession of stolen things.
According to official reports, representatives with the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office worked alongside the Denham Springs Police Department, Louisiana State Police, Louisiana State Police Fugitive Task Force, Louisiana State Police Air Support, and S.C.A.T. throughout the investigation.
Deputies are still looking to arrest Trevell Jarrell on charges of first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, simple arson, obstruction of justice, and illegal possession of stolen things. Anyone with information on Jarrell's whereabouts can contact the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office at (225) 389-5000.
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