Courtesy Keion Reed
Londyn Samuels, 1, was struck by a bullet fired into her 18-year-old nanny's back Aug. 29 in New Orleans.
A second suspect — this time, the alleged gunman — was arrested Thursday in the shooting death of 1-year-old Londyn Samuels, one of two New Orleans children whose killings in the last week have shocked residents.
SWAT officers and U.S. marshals arrested Darnell Ramee, 19, shortly before 6 p.m. (7 p.m. ET) at a home near the Fair Grounds Race Course, the site of the 119-year-old Louisiana Derby.
He was booked on suspicion of first-degree murder and first-degree attempted murder, Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas said in a statement.
An alleged accomplice, Keelen Armstrong, 24, was arrested Wednesday and was formally charged with first-degree murder and first-degree attempted murder. He was being held on $1.2 million bond and was scheduled for an Oct. 4 hearing in Orleans Parish Magistrate's Court.
"I am happy as hell. Hopefully, justice will be served," Keion Reed, Londyn's father, told NBC News. "It's not going to bring our daughter back, but it will give Andrea [Londyn's mother] and I some closure."
Reed said the couple didn't know the two men.
New Orleans Police Department
Police accused Darnell Ramee, 19, of firing the shot that killed Londyn Samuels last week.
"All we know is Londyn was in the wrong place at the wrong time," he said.
Police said two men were seen running from the scene, and Thursday they said Ramee was the second man.
He is believed to have pulled trigger Aug. 29 when a bullet ripped through the torso of Londyn's 18-year-old nanny and killed the toddler, police said. The nanny survived.
The Advocate newspaper, quoting a police report, reported Thursday that witnesses told investigators that the nanny had stopped by a friend's house, where other visitors included Armstrong and a man identified only as "Dee Dee."
"Dee Dee" gave Armstrong a 9mm handgun — the same gun that was used in the shooting, police said, according to the Advocate. The nanny later identified Armstrong from a photo lineup, police said, according to the newspaper.
Court records in neighboring Jefferson Parish show that in April, Ramee and a friend, identified as Christopher Armstrong, were arrested in a stolen vehicle at a hospital in Gretna, where Ramee had driven Armstrong for treatment of a gunshot wound.
Gretna is the same town where Keelen Armstrong was wanted on two outstanding warrants — the original cause of his arrest Wednesday. It couldn't immediately be determined whether Keelen Armstrong and Christopher Armstrong are related.
Authorities have refused to speculate on a possible motive in the shooting, which horrified many in New Orleans. That tension heightened Monday when a second girl, Arabian Gayles, 11, was killed when multiple gunmen opened fire on a home where four young children were staying.
Police said a possible witness they were seeking in that case, Keith Ward, 33, turned himself in for questioning Thursday. They said Ward was a "person of interest" who might have information, not a suspect.
As the memorial grows for Arabian Gayles, the latest young victim slain in New Orleans, the Court Appointed Special Advocate Program of Jefferson is working to make sure no more children become victims. Advocates said it starts with getting involved in the lives of our youth to ensure they stay on the right path and make positive life decisions.
"We cannot live in isolation any longer. Far too much is happening and far too much is happening far too quickly for us to ignore it," Cynthia Chauvin, executive director of the nonprofit Court Appointed Special Advocate program for children in Jefferson Parish, told NBC station WDSU of New Orleans this week.
"I think it really hits home in communities in our region when you're talking about babies' being very, very violently killed, and I think the community really wants to do something," Chauvin said.
"We've got to get them at the beginning, not until we can see something on the news." said Jackie Merrick, a CASA advocate. "We've got to start now."
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First published September 5 2013, 8:09 PM