Trio in Gun Fight Turns Up at Hospital Where Ex-Officer Died
Officer Down: Kelly Marrione Jr. - [Metairie, Louisiana]
Cops: Hurt gunman sought help
By Michelle Hunter, New Orleans Times Picayune
Seriously wounded in a shootout that followed a failed attempt to rob a retired New Orleans police officer outside his Metairie home, Mark Cambre turned to two high school friends for help, authorities said.
The pair, who are cooperating with detectives and have not been identified, picked up Cambre from his Metairie home after Wednesday's shooting and took him to Charity Hospital in New Orleans, Jefferson Parish Sheriff Harry Lee said Thursday.
During the drive, the three men came up with a false name for Cambre and frantically concocted a legitimate-sounding explanation for the gunshot wounds to Cambre's right hand and abdomen, Lee said.
But any hopes of flying under police radar were dashed when the three men pulled up to an emergency room overflowing with police officers mourning the death of 29-year veteran Kelly Marrione Jr., who deputies say got off five shots and wounded Cambre in the shootout.
Detectives had no solid leads on the two men seen driving away from the scene of the shooting until Cambre arrived at Charity Hospital for treatment, and officers saw through his story of how he was injured, Lee said.
"It was just fortuitous that the perpetrator just walked in amidst all those policemen," said Lee, whose office is handling the investigation.
Victim trailed from store
One day after Marrione, 53, was gunned down in the driveway of his Metairie home, the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office had the two suspects in custody, and investigators have learned new details about the robbery gone awry.
Cambre, 27, of 8001 Dalton St., Metairie, underwent surgery for injuries detectives say he received in the shootout with Marrione. He was in stable condition at Charity on Thursday, Lee said. He had not been charged but will be booked with first-degree murder when he is released, Lee said.
Detectives arrested Cambre's alleged accomplice, Donald Logan Jr., 27, of 3212 39th St., Metairie, on Wednesday night at his home. He was booked with first-degree murder and armed robbery and was being held Thursday at the Jefferson Parish Correctional Center without bond on the murder charge.
At a news conference Thursday, Lee said the shootout was touched off when Cambre and Logan followed Marrione from a local home improvement store and tried to rob him as he arrived in his driveway on Toby Lane about 3:45 p.m. Marrione and the two suspects fired a total of 13 shots, Lee said. Marrione was hit three times, in the chest and left arm.
Marrione, who retired in December from the New Orleans Police Department, managed to fire five shots, Lee said. Police found eight shell casings from the two attackers' guns, but the weapons have not been recovered.
Friends to be charged
Detectives found a white 1998 Toyota Tacoma with a shattered passenger window, which matched the description of the pickup Marrione's neighbors told deputies they saw backing out of the driveway and speeding off just after shots rang out.
The truck belongs to the father of Logan's brother's girlfriend, Lee said. It was found at a home in New Orleans, Lee said. Investigators towed the vehicle to the forensic bureau for processing.
Charges are pending against the two unidentified men who dropped off Cambre at the hospital, Lee said. He said they are in their mid-20s and live in Metairie. Cambre has been uncooperative, but the two unidentified men led detectives to Logan. And they provided new information about the shooting.
Suspect seeks help
According to the two men, Cambre and Logan got in touch with them Wednesday morning, said they intended to rob someone and asked if the pair wanted to tag along, Lee said. No target had been picked, and the two unidentified men told detectives that they turned down the offer.
It's not known why or how Marrione was targeted.
Later that afternoon, the two men told detectives, they received a phone call from Cambre, who was wounded, asking if they would pick him up at his home, where Logan had dropped him off, Lee said. The two agreed and helped come up with a story to cover for Cambre's injuries, Lee said.
"Their initial story was they found him shot in New Orleans and brought him to the hospital," Lee said.
The men arrived at Charity shortly after Marrione, who had just been pronounced dead, Lee said. NOPD officers at the hospital thought the men's story sounded suspicious and took the two friends into custody for questioning.
"That's when their story started to crumble," Lee said.
Logan's family refused to comment on Thursday.
Relatives of Cambre who gathered at his father's home on West Napoleon Avenue in Metairie said they were advised by a lawyer not to comment, but they did say .
they were angry that they could not get any information about Cambre's condition.
"They threw us out of the hospital," one relative said.
Lee said Cambre's family will not be allowed to see him until he is questioned by investigators.
'He gave his all'
Meanwhile, at a Night Out Against Crime program Thursday night, Marrione was remembered by colleagues.
Marrione, one of three original NOPD crime prevention officers in the 1970s, helped found the awards event and would have attended Thursday's ceremony.
"His whole career, he gave his all," Police Superintendent Eddie Compass said. "If he was out there fighting crime, he gave his all. Or if he was working with a neighborhood group, he gave his all. And you don't realize how good someone is, how much of an influence they've been on your life, until they're not with you anymore.
"To know Kelly is to love him," Compass said, "and if you were not fortunate enough to know Kelly, you really missed out on a lot."