Sheriff: ‘External influences’ will not motivate Joe McKnight shooting investigation

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MIAMI GARDENS, FL - SEPTEMBER 21: Running back Joe McKnight #22 of the Kansas City Chiefs scores a third-quarter touchdown against the Miami Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium on September 21, 2014 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

HARVEY, La. (WGNO) – Jefferson Parish Sheriff Newell Normand called on the public to stop feeding rumors on social media as deputies continue to investigate the shooting death of former John Curtis standout and ex-NFL player Joe McKnight.

Normand, speaking to reporters at an afternoon press conference at JPSO headquarters, said several rumors being spread on social media are false.

McKnight, 28, died Thursday afternoon after he was shot three times at the intersection of Behrman Highway and Holmes Boulevard in Terrytown. The Jefferson Parish coroner said McKnight was shot once in the finger, once in the shoulder and once below his nipple. Bullets punctured his lung and went through his liver.

The shooter, 54-year-old Ronald Gasser, stayed on the scene and gave his weapon to officers. Gasser admitted to the shooting and was held for several hours before deputies released him overnight. JPSO says it will be up to the District Attorney’s Office to file charges against the shooter.

Normand said Gasser did not stand over McKnight and fire the shots. All three shots were fired from inside Gasser’s vehicle, Normand said. Normand said McKnight did not apologize to Gasser and plead for his life.

The two vehicles were stopped side-by-side at the intersection when the shooting happened.

Photo courtesy of TMZSports.com.

Photo courtesy of TMZSports.com.

Gasser’s release from custody has prompted anger from McKnight’s family and the NAACP. The Westbank NAACP held a protest outside of the sheriff’s office before this afternoon’s press conference and said “there is nothing that could’ve happened at 3 p.m. in broad daylight on a Louisiana highway in front of many people passing back and forth, that would make this man feel in danger of his life from a man who was unarmed.”

“Everyone wants to make this about race,” Normand said. “This isn’t about race. The gentleman that raised Joe McKnight Jr. used to work for this office. This office and many of the members sitting over here, they’re close to his family. Mr. Gasser doesn’t know this. He knows it now.”

Asked about Gasser’s criminal background, Normand said he has an arrest dating back to 10 years ago, but he didn’t provide any specifics on that arrest.

Asked whether Gasser had a permit to carry a gun or a concealed weapon, Normand said that’s still under investigation.

He also warned protesters that they will be arrested if they block the Westbank Expressway or any other public highway during protests.

Check back for updates.