New Orleans, LA – A suspect accused of fatally shooting a 12-year-old boy and dragging a woman with a stolen vehicle in two separate attacks could have potentially been behind bars if prosecutors would have charged him in connection with an armed robbery he allegedly committed last year.
New Orleans police arrested Tyrese Harris on Aug. 21, 2021, in connection with an armed carjacking that occurred in the 600-block of Washington Avenue two days earlier, WVUE reported.
Investigators said Harris and two accomplices stole a man’s Toyota Camry and cell phone at gunpoint during that attack.
They said they spotted Harris driving the stolen car on Aug. 21 and tried to pull him over, but he refused to stop and led officers on a chase that ended when he crashed into a canal near France Street and Hayne Boulevard, WVUE reported.
Police said Harris and his three accomplices bailed out of the crashed car and fled on foot, but were apprehended.
Harris was initially charged with resisting an officer, aggravated flight from an officer, and illegal possession of stolen property, WVUE reported.
An additional charge of armed robbery with a firearm, which is punishable by 10 to 99 years in prison plus five years consecutive for the firearm enhancement, was added on Sept. 15, 2021.
On Nov. 10, 2021, Orleans Parish District Attorney Jason Williams’ office refused to prosecute Harris for the armed robbery charge and opted to only proceed with the aggravated flight offense, WVUE reported.
Williams released a statement Monday saying the victim in the case wasn’t cooperating with the prosecution, resulting in his decision not to charge, according to WVUE.
Williams’ office allowed the illegal possession of stolen property and resisting an officer offenses to expire prior to prosecution and took no action on them, according to the news outlet.
Harris, 18, is scheduled to appear in court on Feb. 22 for the aggravated flight charge.
According to the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD), Harris was released from jail and went on to carry out another attempted armed carjacking in the 700-block of Howard Avenue on Jan. 18, WVUE reported.
During that incident, Harris allegedly jumped into a 44-year-old man’s car at 8:12 p.m., but the driver “armed himself,” according to police.
The suspect allegedly got out of the man’s vehicle and opened fire on him, but the victim was not hit, WVUE reported.
According to court records, another vehicle was damaged by Harris’ gunfire, WDSU reported.
Harris fled the scene and was not immediately apprehended, but he dropped his cell phone on the ground.
Police later used it to link him to the incident, WDSU reported.
He struck again on Feb. 1, targeting Kelleye Rhein as she was pumping gas at a Costco on Dublin Street, WVUE reported.
Witnesses said the suspect dragged Rhein with the car for approximately 30 feet, then left her to die in the parking lot.
She survived the attack, but suffered catastrophic injuries.
“She had a skull fracture a brain bleed, she had fractures in her neck vertebrae, injuries to her hand, all along the right side of her body had severe cuts and abrasions,” her husband, Jason Rhein, told WDSU. “We don’t know what the long-term effects are going to be.”
“She is still in an incredible amount of pain, which is heartbreaking and hard to go through and see my wife go through that,” he said. “I have faith that she is going to be OK, it is just going to take a long time.”
Investigators said they have linked Harris to another attempted carjacking that took place at the Costco gas station on Jan. 31, WDSU reported.
Harris has also been named as the gunman who murdered 12-year-old Derrick Cash on Jan. 3, WVUE reported.
Cash was found lying on the ground near a vehicle in the 14000-block of Michoud Boulevard shortly before 10 a.m. that day, according to police.
He suffered multiple gunshot wounds and was pronounced dead at the scene, WVUE reported.
Additional details regarding the circumstances of the shooting have not been released.
New Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office deputies and U.S. Marshals Service agents arrested Harris on Feb. 6 on an arrest warrant in connection with the attack on Rhein, WVUE reported.
He was apprehended in the 1500-block of Milton Street at approximately 2:30 p.m., according to police.
Harris now faces charges of attempted armed robbery, simple carjacking, illegal use of a weapon, attempted armed robbery with a firearm, aggravated criminal damage to property, and illegal carrying of weapons, WVUE reported.
An additional charge of second-degree murder in the death of Cash was added on Monday, according to WVUE.
According to court documents, New Orleans police said Harris confessed to killing Cash, WVUE reported.
Federal officials obtained an arrest warrant for Harris through the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana for charges of using a firearm during a crime of violence and carjacking.
They placed a federal detainer on the accused killer Monday night.