Police: Loaded gun found in Smith’s vehicle; second loaded gun also in Hayes’ vehicle

The vehicles of Cardell Hayes and Will Smith at the scene of a fatal shooting Saturday night. (Photo: WWL)

NEW ORLEANS, La. (WWL) – An official police statement released shortly before 5 p.m. states that a loaded gun was found in Will Smith’s Mercedes vehicle and that a second loaded gun was found in the vehicle driven by Cardell Hayes.

The guns found in both vehicles had not been fired, according to police.

Released just before 5 p.m. Tuesday, here is what the official statement said:

The NOPD is continuing to investigate the shooting incident that claimed the life of 34-year-old Will Smith and injured his 33-year-old wife on Saturday, April 9, 2016.
The incident initially was reported to NOPD as shots fired in the area of Felicity Street and Sophie Wright Place around 11:29 p.m. When officers arrived, they found Smith partially inside of his vehicle suffering from multiple gunshot wounds to the body. Smith was pronounced dead at the scene.

Officers also found Smith’s wife suffering from at least one gunshot wound to the right leg. EMS transported her to the hospital where she is currently being treated for the non-life-threatening injury.

Based on the initial investigation, officers learned that Smith and his wife were traveling eastbound on Sophie Wright Place in their silver Mercedes G63. As they were approaching Felicity Street, their vehicle was hit in the rear by an orange Hummer H2. The impact caused Smith to hit the rear of a grey Chevrolet Impala. Two friends of Smith were inside of the Impala. They were not injured in the incident.

At some point, the driver of the Hummer, later identified as Cardell Hayes (8-26-1987), and Smith exchanged words. During the argument, Hayes produced a .45 caliber handgun and opened fire, striking Smith and his wife. No one else was injured in the gunfire.

Hayes was on the scene when officers arrived and identified himself as the shooter. Detectives detained and questioned Hayes. Based on the interview and evidence gathered from the scene, detectives arrested Hayes and booked him with Second Degree Murder. An additional charge for Smith’s wife’s injury is pending further investigation.

A male passenger was inside Hayes’ vehicle at the time of the incident. He cooperated with detectives and was later released after questioning. Another male and female were inside of Smith’s vehicle. They were not injured in the incident.

Detectives recovered a .45 caliber handgun on the scene believed to be in Hayes’ possession during the time of the shooting. Casings recovered from the scene matched a .45 caliber handgun. As part of the investigation, police confiscated all three vehicles in the incident.

(The bold emphasis is from WWL-TV)
This morning (April 12), detectives executed a search warrant on the Mercedes G63 and the Hummer H2. During the search, detectives recovered a fully-loaded revolver inside Hayes’ vehicle and a fully-loaded 9-millimeter handgun inside Smith’s vehicle. No bullet casings were found inside either vehicle and no ballistic evidence was recovered to show that either weapon was fired during the incident. A search of the Impala is pending.

During the course of the investigation, detectives obtained several surveillance videos from the neighborhood that appeared to show a traffic collision involving the Mercedes G63 and the Hummer H2 take place prior to the shooting. Detectives are in the process of reviewing that video and obtaining additional video to use as part of the investigation.

This is an on-going criminal investigation. Following investigative protocol for all homicide investigations, detectives will continue to gather evidence and build a case to provide for the Orleans Parish District Attorney’s office to review and determine whether to pursue prosecution. As in every case, the department will not make further evidence learned available to the public prior to providing the findings to the DA.

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