BRPD continues investigation into murder of pregnant woman

BRPD continues investigation into murder of pregnant woman
La'el Collins (Source: Josh Auzenne/WAFB)
La'el Collins (Source: WAFB)
La'el Collins (Source: WAFB)

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A biting scent of cleaner lingered near an apartment door, like catching a whiff of ammonia from the bottle. The black painted threshold was shiny in the sunlight. Neighbors said a cleaning crew had been there, removing the red stains left from a gruesome scene that played out a few days earlier.

The white apartment complex is small and constructed to look like a block of the New Orleans French Quarter. It was on the bottom floor in a corner unit that Brittany Mills, 29, an expecting mother, was gunned down. A man living on the second floor above Mills vividly recalled the sound of gunfire and the chaos of the bloody scene. He was among those going outside to investigate the noise.

While he did not know Mills well, he said she was always quiet, cautious and pleasant. Police said it is likely Mills knew her attacker. The neighbor agreed. He said she was always peeking outside through the window of the door.

According to the Baton Rouge Police Department, Mills was shot several times Friday evening. She was about eight months pregnant, but her baby survived. Only a few days old, police said the baby is still in medical care. Residents along Ship Drive are still on edge.

"Find out who did it and we can get back to leading our lives and not having to talk about it," said Nell Doucet.

She is worried that the crime will bring unwanted attention and rubberneckers to the street she's called home for 30 years. Unfortunately for Doucet, there is already a national spotlight burning there. The tragic case was thrust into national headlines, tangled with predictions of the 2015 NFL Draft.

Top prospect and ex-LSU Tiger La'el Collins is wanted for questioning by police. While investigators said he is not a suspect, they believe Collins and Mills had a romantic relationship at one time.

"At this time, he is not a suspect," said Cpl. Don Coppola, public information officer for BRPD. "We just want information as investigators are reaching out to any acquaintance she has, friends, anyone who can shed light on the situation."

Investigators have stressed there are no suspects in the case yet, but that hasn't stopped the social media speculation. While some expected Collins to be in Chicago for Thursday night's draft, a tweet from ESPN's Adam Schefter on Wednesday morning indicated otherwise.

"LSU's La'el Collins voluntarily pulling himself out of CHIC to return to La. to meet with police in effort to clear his name, per sources," the tweet read.

In an earlier article, ESPN reported that Collins' attorney, Jim Boren, said his client would meet with police after the draft. As of Wednesday night, BRPD had yet to hear from the football player.

"At this point in time, investigators have not spoken to him, an attorney, his agent. So, at this point in time, we're still unsure if he is in route to Baton Rouge," Coppola explained.

Another network report indicated that Collins would submit to a paternity test. The newborn's father is unknown. BRPD could not comment on that possibility. Multiple attempts to reach Boren for comment or confirmation of his client's intentions were unsuccessful. When a reporter dropped by his downtown offices, an associate said Boren was unavailable.

As speculation around Collins builds, Mills' newborn is still recovering from its violent entry into the world. The shooter is still at large.

"Investigators are looking at every angle of this, sorting this out, attempting to locate anyone with any information that can lead us to this killer," Coppola added.

ESPN also reported Collins' attorney said they will be meeting with police at some point.

Police are asking anyone who can shed some light on the shooting to call Crime Stoppers at 344-7867.

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