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Kenneth Gleason, a white Baton Rouge man, has been charged with the shooting deaths of two Black men. Gleason was taken into custody today (Sept. 19) with speculation abound that the killings may have been racially motivated.

As reported by The Advocate, Gleason was named a person of interest last week in the killings of 59-year-old Bruce Cofield on Sept. 12, and 49-year-old Donald Smart last Thursday.

More from The Advocate:

Kenneth Gleason, 23, will be booked on two counts of first-degree murder in the slayings of Bruce Cofield, 59, on Sept. 12 in the 3400 block of Florida Street; and Donald Smart, 49, on Thursday in the 3000 block of Alaska Street. He will also be booked on two counts of attempted first-degree murder, aggravated criminal damage to property and illegal use of weapon, according to the East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office.

At a news conference Tuesday, Baton Rouge Interim Police Chief Jonny Dunnam called the two slayings “brutal murders” and said that if Gleason wasn’t arrested, “he could have potentially created a terror in the fabric that holds this community together.”

Baton Rouge police have previously said the shootings may be racially motivated, but on Tuesday police said they would not speculate on a motive, calling it “an ongoing investigation.”

Gleason was arrested last week for an attempted shoplifting of a book but was let go as evidence linking him to the killings was not present. DNA found on casings matched Gleason, who was then taken in by local authorities. A search of the home yielded a speech from Adolf Hitler and human growth hormones among other items.

Photo: East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office

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