The co-owner of a Canal Street vape shop who fatally shot a man near his store last year was among seven people indicted for murder on Thursday by an Orleans Parish grand jury.
The indictments involve three separate slayings in 2021, when the city reached its highest murder total in 17 years, with 218 slayings.
Khutbi Abdelkader allegedly told police that 24-year-old Anthony Francois, the man he shot dead one evening last May, had been “harassing and threatening” him and his brother for days at their shop, Smoke Sum, in the 900 block of Canal.
Abdelkader, 24, from Harvey, allegedly told investigators he was standing inside his shop when Francois started banging on the storefront glass at about 4:50 p.m. He claimed he stepped outside to confront Francois, saw him “reaching for an object” and shot him twice.
Abdelkader was booked on a second-degree murder charge shortly after the May 5 killing. Court records show he remained free Thursday on $350,000 bail.
Killing at car repair shop on Tchoupitoulas
The grand jury also indicted four men with second-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder in the September killing of 20-year-old Torrin Girard inside a car repair shop on Tchoupitoulas Street, after an earlier argument miles away with a cousin.
Police said Girard argued with Dominique Buggage in an apartment in the Little Woods section of New Orleans East on Sept. 20. An hour later, Girard was at a mechanic shop in the 4300 block of Tchoupitoulas when six men pulled up in two vehicles, according to police.
Two of Buggage’s companions — including one wielding a rifle — shot and killed Girard, police allege. Buggage didn’t shoot but returned to a getaway car with both shooters, investigators contend.
Indicted on charges of second-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder were Buggage, 30, Wallace Dickerson III, 21, Ulysses Thomas, 34, and Tremane Johnson, 20. All four men were booked in October as principals to murder.
Buggage, Thomas and Johnson all were being held in the Orleans Parish jail Thursday. Dickerson did not appear in Orleans Parish jail records on Thursday.
Bond amounts set after those indictments were not immediately available.
Man killed, another injured in Florida neighborhood
Also indicted Thursday on second-degree murder charges were Melvinisha Howard and Joe Robinson III, both 24, for the Aug. 13 killing last year of Djuan Brown and the attempted murder of another man in the Florida neighborhood.
The victims were in a car in the 2200 block of Piety Street. Their car crashed more than a mile away, at Ursula Spencer Way and Humanity Street, where Brown died at age 32. Authorities tracked Howard and Robinson to their home in Baton Rouge six weeks later.
Robison also was indicted on an obstruction of justice count, and Howard for allegedly violating a protective order.
Howard was being held in the Orleans Parish jail Thursday on $460,000 in total bond. Robinson’s bond was set at $1 million.
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