NEW ORLEANS – A joint federal-state investigation continued Friday into the shocking firebombing Thursday at the Uptown home of a well-known political strategist.
On Wednesday, we told you about the surprising results in the Public Service Commission race and how the high-stakes, expensive runoff between incumbent Eric Skrmetta and alternative energy advocate Forest Bradley-Wright could affect the future of energy regulation in Louisiana.
Just a few short hours later, everything changed. Bradley-Wright's finance director and chief fundraiser, Mario Zervigon, had his two cars and Uptown home destroyed in a shocking firebombing.
Investigators are checking with ProjectNOLA for crime camera footage and canvassing some of the local stores to see if there were sales of gasoline or accelerant shortly before the 2:30 a.m. attack.
Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives Agent Kevin Moran said investigators will be interviewing members of both the Bradley-Wright and Skremtta campaigns to try to establish possible motives.
Still, investigators have not made any connection between the arson and Zervigon's work for any campaign, and law enforcement sources have cautioned against any rush to judgment.
But, Bradley-Wright's campaign has been shaken by the crime.
"It's going to be different, at least for the time-being because Mario was such an important part of our team," Bradley-Wright said as he returned to campaigning for the runoff Dec. 6.
Zervigon helped Wright raise $210,000 during the primary, including $100,000 in the last 10 days alone, according to campaign finance reports. That nearly equaled Skrmetta's total contributions of $215,000 reported in filings, and allowed Bradley-Wright to run aggressive attack ads against Skrmetta.
Wright says he has to get back to the campaign trail for the December 6th runoff, but it's hard to press on like normal when one of his top advisers seems to have been the target of violence. He says he and his staff are being extra vigilant.
"I feel that additional precautions have been important, sensible precautions to realize that clearly there is someone out there that is willing to do absolutely terrible act of violence in this case," Bradley-Wright said.
Skrmetta issued a statement Thursday sending his thoughts and prayers to the Zervigon family and other families in the apartment building who also lost their homes. And Skrmetta said he hoped that the culprits are brought to justice quickly.