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Victim's family speaks out in wake of murder suspect's arrest

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BATON ROUGE - The arrest of suspected murderer Kenneth Gleason came as good news to the victims' families, but questions still remain.

Since the morning the family found out their loved one, 49-year-old Donald Smart was shot multiple times on Alaska Street last Thursday, the family said it’s been a whirlwind of emotions. They described Smart as a man who supported his family by working nights as a restaurant dishwasher at Louie's Café.

The past five days have been agonizing, as they wondered when or if a suspect would be apprehended.

It wasn’t until Tuesday morning, during a news conference, that the family could breathe what they call a ‘bittersweet sigh of relief.’

While they're grateful the suspected murderer, Kenneth Gleason, is in police custody, they're still trying to make sense of it all.

“I feel relieved that he's off the street and cannot hurt anybody else," said Renee McCoy, one of Smart's sisters. "Though sad, because why did it have to get to this point?” 

The Smart family is feeling the relief along with the community, but said they’re still having trouble grasping the senseless murders of Bruce Cofield and Donald Smart.

“How could he just do that to someone he didn't know? How can he have so much hatred and anger for someone you didn't know?” McCoy asked.

Not only is Kenneth Gleason facing first-degree murder charges in the slayings of the two men, but he also faces attempted first-degree murder charges for opening fire into another family’s home on his own block on Sandy Ridge Drive. No one was hurt when Gleason opened fire into the front door, leaving multiple bullet holes in the door and furniture.

Shell casings left at all three scenes and DNA, were the pieces that led investigators to link the three incidents together. On Tuesday, they used that evidence to charge Gleason in the three attacks. 

For Donald Smart’s niece, Ariel Smart, the fact that Gleason is the same age as her, and that he was potentially racially-motivated in the murders, is a bone-chilling thought for her to process.

“He's my age, he's 23... I’m 23, you know?" She said. "He is walking down the street so young, with so much hate built up, that you would kill somebody based on what they look like?”

Donald Smart’s funeral services are this Saturday at Hall Davis and Son funeral home, with his burial planned at Heavenly Gates Mausoleum.

Visiting hours will begin at 8 a.m.

Friends have set up a GoFundMe to pay for Smart's funeral costs. To contribute to the fundraiser, click HERE.



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