Two shot at Hot Rod’s Halloween party

Michael Tortorich

Two people were shot Saturday night during a fight at a Halloween party attended by about 250 guests at the Gonzales home of former professional basketball player John “Hot Rod” Williams.

The two victims told police that they did not know the shooter, but said they witnessed a man fire into a crowd, according to Gonzales Police Detective Steven Nethken.

The victims told investigators that some people in the crowd were fighting and some were not, Nethken said.

Officers arrived at Williams’ residence, located at 1816 E. Hermitage, after a large fight was reported to dispatchers.

Nethken said officers were told at the scene about the shooting, but were initially unable to locate anyone that had been injured.

Williams, 47, gave police permission to shutdown the party, and all attendees were identified, according to Nethken.

Nethken said the age ranges of the guests were between 12 and 20 years old.

Officers proceeded to search the attendees and vehicles on the property, but no weapon was found, he said.

A single projectile from a handgun was discovered on the concrete next to Williams’ home, he said.

About 45 minutes after arriving on the scene, officers and Ascension Parish Sheriff’s deputies were notified that there were two gunshot wound victims in the emergency room at St. Elizabeth Hospital.

Both of the victims suffered non-life threatening wounds to their upper thighs, Nethken said.

Investigators are interviewing about 180 identified guests from as far away as the Lafayette and the New Orleans areas, he said.

Williams, a St. Amant High School graduate and Sorrento native, was in the NBA for 13 years, playing forward and center for the Cleveland Cavaliers, Dallas Mavericks and Phoenix Suns. His professional basketball career began in 1986 and ended in 1999.

Williams was selected in the 1985 NBA Draft after starring at Tulane University in New Orleans.

Williams reportedly invited his son’s East Ascension basketball team to use his indoor basketball court for the party.

Anyone with information that can help investigators identify the suspect is asked to contact either Crime Stoppers at 225-344-STOP or Gonzales Police investigators at 225-647-9537.