NEW ORLEANS — The man who who police say shot and killed former NFL player Joe McKnight was released without charges overnight.
The Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office confirmed that 54-year-old Ronald Gasser was questioned and released “sometime overnight” after officials believed they had no reason to hold him any longer.
The JPSO believes Gasser “definitely” shot the ex-NFL running back — police say Gasser remained at the scene and “identified himself as the shooter and relinquished the semiautomatic handgun used in the lethal encounter.”
Police say there was some type of road rage incident, after which the men got into a verbal argument. At some point, police say, Gasser fired three shots from a .40 caliber semiautomatic handgun. He was in the driver’s seat of a blue Infinity G37 at the time and shot through his open passenger window, two of which hit McKnight, who had already gotten out of his Audi Q7.
The investigation is ongoing, police say, and they are determining the circumstances around the shooting to assess if and which laws and statues were violated. There are still witnesses to be interviewed, Sheriff Newell Normand said, and some previous reports of witness encounters have since been dispelled and proven false.
JPSO spokesman Johnny Fortunato said Friday morning that a decision to press charges against Gasser will come from the district attorney’s office.
McKnight is a Kenner native and former John Curtis High School football standout who played for the University of Southern California, the New York Jets and the Kansas City Chiefs.
This is the second time this year that a former NFL player has been shot and killed in the New Orleans area because of a road rage incident. Trial is set to start Monday for Cardell Hayes, who’s accused of shooting and killing former New Orleans Saint Will Smith and shooting and injuring his wife in the Garden District in April after a traffic crash and subsequent altercation.
“It just becomes almost unfathomable that a life could be snuffed out that quickly over getting cut off in a lane or a bumper getting bumped — and people would lose it to that degree,” said J.T. Curtis, head football coach at John Curtis High School.
Curtis coached McKnight during his years playing high school football. McKnight graduated from John Curtis in 2007.
“He was a household name,” Curtis said. “He was a guy that a lot of young players, not just at J.T. Curtis but all over the region, wanted to be like.”
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