Law enforcement sources have identified the man suspected of shooting a New Orleans police officer in the French Quarter on Friday afternoon as Donnell Linwood Hassell, 44.
They say Hassell was wearing a black motorcycle vest while riding in the back of a pedicab crossing Royal Street on St. Philip Street. The pedicab crossed in front of a police SUV on Royal when Hassell fired a gun several times at the SUV and ran away, the sources said.
The gunfire struck a four-year police veteran behind the steering wheel in the left cheek, just below his eye. Fellow officers took the wounded policeman to a hospital while others chased Hassell six blocks to the intersection of Decatur and St. Peter streets and arrested him.
Hassell had been staying at a French Quarter hotel about a half mile from the shooting, a source said. After his arrest, he was taken to a hospital to be evaluated because he appeared to suffer a medical episode, although Police Superintendent Shaun Ferguson said the arresting officers did not injure him.
A nationwide public records database past addresses in Florida and Georgia for Hassell. A social media profile under his name describes him as the president of a Georgia motorcycle club in Georgia.
In his social media profile photo, he is wearing a black motorcycle vest and matching helmet. The vest resembles one that the accused French Quarter shooter was wearing when police officers arrested him, a moment which was recorded on video obtained by WWL television.
The suspected gunman will likely be booked with two counts of attempted murder when he is discharged from the hospital. A second officer in the cruiser that was hit by gunfire, a 16-year veteran, who was cut by shards of glass from the shattered driver’s side window of the cruiser.
Attempted murder of a police officer carries a sentence of 20 to 50 years in prison upon conviction for each count.
Ferguson said the two officers had no prior interaction with their attacker.
“Our officers were ambushed,” Ferguson said. “This is a dark day.”
Source: The New Orleans Advocate by RAMON ANTONIO VARGAS