Former Football Player Jailed After 2 Southern University Students Killed

Annette January, 19, was on the track and field team and graduated from Thea Bowman Leadership Academy in 2015

A suspect is in custody in connection with the shooting death of a freshman track star at Southern University originally from northwest Indiana and another 19-year-old student Sunday, police said.

A former Southern University football player remained jailed on charges he traded gunfire with another man in a shootout that killed the two 19-year-old women, both members of the Baton Rouge school's athletic program.

State District Court Judge Beau Higginbotham ordered Ernest Bernard Felton, 22, of Miami, held on $90,000 bond, according to East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore III.

The shooting occurred around 2 a.m. at an apartment complex near the campus of Louisiana State University, according to police.

A witness told investigators that Felton initiated the shooting outside an apartment complex where Felton and others were holding a party early Sunday, according to a police report.

Annette January, of Gary, was one of the two students killed early Sunday, police said. 

Another student, 19-year-old Lashuntae Benton, also was killed, according to Southern University President Ray L. Belton. Benton was a student athletic trainer from Lake Charles, Louisiana. A third victim, a 24-year-old man, was also shot but expected to survive.

January was a student-athlete on the Southern University Track and Field team and a 2015 alumnus of Thea Bowman Leadership Academy in Indiana, where she graduated in the top 10 of her class.

Flags at Thea Bowman flew at half-staff on Monday in January's honor.

"She was such a great person, beyond her academics," said Tracy Johnson, a college counselor at the high school. "Very bright young lady, very helpful."

Johnson said January was excited to venture out of Gary and had her choice of scholarship offers. In the end she won a full ride to Southern.

"She had several universities that were coming after her," Johnson said.

"She was just such a bright child, doing everything right," Thea Bowman Principal Sarita Stevens said. "Student Council president, National Honors Society, Top 10 in her class."

Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson released a statement with her condolences to January's family and the Thea Bowman campus.

"It just doesn’t make sense that the life of a young person poised for success would abruptly end through gun violence in our nation’s streets," Freeman-Wilson said. "We must continue the fight and our work to take drastic measures to stop the flow of guns on city streets."

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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