Witness feared Joe McKnight killer might shoot him, too

The trial of Ronald Gasser, the man accused of murdering former Saskatchewan Roughrider and Edmonton Eskimo running back Joe McKnight, continued on Monday with testimony from a witness who feared Gasser might shoot him, too.

Wendell Sam, a former U.S. Navy member, was the first person to encounter Gasser after the shooting. From the report in the New Orleans Times-Picayune:

Startled by Sam’s approach, Gasser spun and raised the gun before quickly putting down the weapon after Sam said he assured that he just wanted to help the injured man.

“For a split second, I thought I was going to be shot. I saw the rage in his eyes,” Sam testified.

Mcknight, 28, was shot by Gasser on Dec. 1, 2016 after as he sat in the driver’s seat of his car and McKnight stood at Gasser’s open passenger side window. The shooting occurred after a road rage incident between the two men.

Gasser never left the shooting scene and was initially freed after more than eight hours of questioning, a controversial move that led to racially-charged protests. Arrested on a manslaughter charge four days after the shooting, Gasser was indicted by a grand jury on the second-degree murder charge in February.

If convicted as charged he would be sentenced to life in prison.

Sam testified that he was at a gas station next to the intersection where the shooting occurred when he heard gunshots. From the Times-Picayune:

He looked up and saw someone, later identified as Gasser, coming around a car, holding a gun “like a police officer.” Gasser made a maneuver that Sam called “slicing the pie,” a circular movement done when someone is “looking for a target,” Sam said….

Sam remembers telling Gasser, “You don’t want to shoot me. You shoot me, you’ll have more problems than you already have. I just want to help buddy, on the ground,” he said.

Sam says he and several others were trying to help McKnight when Gasser approached.

As Sam rendered aid, he testified that Gasser tried to explain what happened, telling them, “He came at me. You seen it. You seen it. He came at me.”

McKnight played three seasons for the New York Jets and one with the Kansas City Chiefs. He spent a season in the CFL, playing two games for the Edmonton Eskimos and three for the Saskatchewan Roughriders.

The trial continues Tuesday.

– with files from the New Orleans Times-Picayune and the Associated Press

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