Some charges dropped in Mother's Day shootings

Top row, left to right Nekia Youngblood and Bionca Hickerson. Bottom row, left to right, Brandy George and Monique Pepe.
Top row, left to right Nekia Youngblood and Bionca Hickerson. Bottom row, left to right, Brandy George and Monique Pepe.

But four could face federal charges in May 12 incident

Four women who were once accused of helping two brothers hide from the law after they allegedly rained bullets onto a Mother’s Day second-line parade in May are no longer facing state charges as accessories to attempted murder and assault, although their legal troubles could be moving to federal court.

The Orleans Parish District Attorney’s Office on Friday dismissed the charges against Bionca Hickerson, Nekia Youngblood, Brandy George and Monique Pepe.

Similar charges were dismissed last month against Justin Alexander, the fifth person charged as an accessory.

Each was part of an indictment that charged the two alleged gunmen, brothers Akein and Shawn Scott, of shooting into the second-line. The five accessories were accused of helping the Scott brothers elude capture during the high-profile manhunt that stretched for several days after the May 12 mass shooting.

Federal law enforcement agencies could be looking to launch a criminal investigation against at least some of the once-alleged accessories.

“Pursuant to an agreement between the district attorney and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the district attorney will continue to prosecute only those individuals charged in the Mother’s Day shooting, namely Shawn and Akein Scott,” Christopher Bowman, spokesman for District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro, said Friday. “All of the other individuals have been referred to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for prosecution.”

None of the five has yet been charged in federal court.

Anna Christman, a spokeswoman for U.S. Attorney Kenneth Polite, declined to comment, citing department policy against confirming the existence of any investigation.

The Scotts were allegedly settling a score in an ongoing gang war when, according to police, they stood on opposite sides of the intersection at North Villere and Frenchmen streets as the second-line parade went by, and fired indiscriminately into the crowd.

Nineteen people were shot, including some children, and another was trampled in the chaos. None died, though several suffered serious injuries.

The Scott brothers were allegedly part of a 7th Ward street gang called the Frenchmen and Derbigny Boys, at war with a rival gang called the Deslonde Boys.

Both brothers fled the shooting scene.

Within a day, authorities offered a $10,000 bounty for their capture, and the men’s mug shots accompanied headlines across the parish. Still, they eluded police for days.

Akein Scott was caught first, four days after the shooting, at a distant relative’s home on Kingsport Boulevard in the Little Woods neighborhood in New Orleans East. Hickerson, Youngblood and George were at the home with him. Police charged that they each knew he was wanted and protected him anyway.

Shawn Scott was found hours later in Pepe’s apartment in a Hayne Boulevard complex, three miles from the Kingsport Boulevard house where his brother was found. Pepe was also charged as an accessory.

The Scott brothers are each facing 20 counts of attempted murder and 14 counts of aggravated assault with a firearm. They are being held on multimillion-dollar bonds, the highest in Orleans Parish history, and potentially face decades in prison.

The alleged accessories, facing a decade in prison, were initially ordered held on $1 million bonds each. Hickerson and Youngblood were released from Orleans Parish Prison on Friday afternoon. Alexander was released last month. As of Friday evening, George was still locked up, although she did not appear to be facing any other Orleans Parish charges.

Pepe remains held on a $110,000 bond for a series of drug charges.

As officers tried to arrest Shawn Scott at Pepe’s apartment, he ran and threw away a sack holding individually packaged bags of drugs, totaling 5.5 grams of heroin and 91 grams of cocaine, according to police reports.

Pepe and Shawn Scott were each charged with possession with intent to distribute cocaine, possession with intent to distribute heroin and possession of drug paraphernalia.

They are scheduled to next appear in court next month.