Police have charged a 19-year-old man with killing two teenagers and wounding four others in an early Sunday shooting at a house party on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
According to jail records, Cameron Everest Brand of Pass Christian is charged with murder and aggravated assault. According to Bay St. Louis Police Chief Toby Schwartz, police identified Brand as the single shooter based on witness and victim accounts.
Schwartz claimed an 18-year-old and a 16-year-old died in a New Orleans hospital. The coroner’s office in Orleans Parish did not return a phone call attempting to confirm their identities.
De’Arreis “DD” Smith, 18, and Haeleigh Stamper, 16, were classmates at Hancock High School, according to friends and family.
Smith was a senior about to graduate, according to Kecia Sams, who saw him as an adopted child of her family.
“De’Arreis Smith was an amazing soul, a loyal friend, brother, and uncle,” Sams told Nola.com. “He was loved by many and will be missed so very much by his family.”
A GoFundMe account was set up to help with funeral expenses for Stamper. In the posting, the organizer, Lillie Smith, described the teen as a “sweet soul.”
“Her beautiful smile would light the whole room up,” Smith said.
Brand was arrested at his home in neighboring Pass Christian and taken to jail, Schwartz said. Bay St. Louis Municipal Court Judge Stephen Maggio denied Brand bail, and he was being held in the Hancock County jail. It is unclear if Brand has a lawyer who could speak for him.
After Bay High School’s prom, students gathered at the home on a thinly populated road for a party. Local news outlets stated that blood trails could be seen on the pavement outside the home on Sunday, and cars were riddled with bullet holes. Bay High School is less than a mile away.
According to police, the six people shot varied in age from 15 to 18. All were airlifted to local hospitals, some by helicopter.
Casey Woods, an 18-year-old student at Pass Christian High School, told the Sun Herald of Biloxi that he was at the party with a girlfriend. He told the paper he saw Brand talking to people and then walking away before he returned and the shooting started.
“Me and my girl looked up and saw sparks coming from the gun,” Woods said, adding many people ran into the woods.
According to school officials, both teens who perished attended nearby Hancock High School in Kiln. Two more Hancock High students were shot and injured, as were two Bay High students. Hancock County, located between New Orleans and Gulfport on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, has only two public high schools.
“Our hearts are broken as we mourn the tragic loss of two Hancock High School students who were victims of the shooting in Bay St. Louis last night,” stated the Hancock County school district in a statement, adding that counselors would be available at school on Monday. “Let us unite as a community to show our love and support during this difficult time.”
Both of the injured Bay High students are expected to recover, according to Sandra Reed, superintendent of the Bay St. Louis-Waveland school district. Bay High Principal Amy Necaise stated that educators and staff would counsel pupils on campus Sunday afternoon.
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