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Man who was stopped over mask is charged with killing officer at New Orleans high school game

Prosecutors said that the man shot the officer in February after being stopped for not wearing a mask and striking a school employee.

A New Orleans man who was stopped for not wearing a mask has been indicted in the killing earlier this year of a police officer outside a high school basketball game, prosecutors said.

John Shallerhorn, 35, is charged with first-degree murder in the Feb. 26 slaying of Martinus Mitchum, a Tulane University police officer and reserve deputy constable who was working security at the high school game.

According to police reports, Shallerhorn was stopped by a school employee for not wearing a mask and struck that employee before the shooting, the district attorney's office said in a statement Friday.

Shallerhorn was being escorted out of the high school by Mitchum when he pulled out a gun and fired twice, hitting the officer once in the chest, police have said.

After shooting the officer, Shallerhorn threw the gun down and surrendered, New Orleans Police Superintendent Shaun Ferguson said at a March 1 news conference.

Ferguson at that time said a motive was not known.

Shallerhorn's attorneys at a March hearing appeared to be building an insanity defense, The Times-Picayune/The New Orleans Advocate reported. A detective testified that Shallerhorn's relatives said he had previously been psychiatrically committed, according to the newspaper.

The detective also reportedly testified that Shallerhorn told authorities he struck the employee after being called "boy," which the employee denied, and that he did not know Mitchum, who was in uniform, was a police officer.

An attorney representing Shallerhorn did not immediately return an emailed request for comment Friday night. Shallerhorn is being held without bail, according to online jail records.

Shallerhorn was also indicted on an armed robbery charge. Police have said that he robbed someone of jewelry at the high school before the officer's death.

Ferguson said in March that he knew Mitchum personally and he called the slain officer a dedicated public servant.

"It's my personal belief he was a hero on this day, because I can only imagine what could have happened had he made entry into that game," Ferguson said.