Last Modified: Wednesday, July 30, 2014 12:22 PM
It’s difficult to pinpoint what led to such a gun-filled week in Lake Charles, but crime overall is on the rise, Police Chief Don Dixon said.
From the early morning of July 21, when two masked men shot someone on Winterhalter Street, through Sunday, there were eight shootings in Lake Charles. That does not include an incident at a Sulphur hotel in which a suspect in some of the shootings reportedly fired on police as they tried to apprehend him.
If there’s any good news to come from a violent week, it’s that no one who was shot died from their injuries. Four of the shootings were drive-bys, some of which are believed to be connected, Dixon said.
Dixon said it’s the most shootings within a short span that he can remember in more than a decade as police chief. Violent crimes sometimes happen in spurts, though they may not be related.
“We hope this is just a bad few days and it’s not an indication of things to come, but I can tell here recently we have become very busy,” Dixon said. “Everything is up. Crashes are up, crime is up. We’re just busier.”
Burglaries are up 9 percent to 10 percent this year, he said.
Crime always rises when school is out, but with money, business and workers pouring into the area, crime is certain to come as well, Dixon said.
The billions of dollars in economic development expected to come to Southwest Louisiana “is a good thing, but it also brings some bad things with it,” Dixon said. “When you bring in 17,000 temporary jobs and several thousand foreign laborers, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that’s also going to bring in residual crime, everything from prostitution to drugs, you name it.”
The Lake Charles Police Department’s annual crime report, released in May, showed a 4 percent increase in crime in 2013, although the numbers were still lower than 2007, when crime hit a 10-year peak.
Dixon said officers will continue to be proactive in attempting to keep crime in check.
“We are very successful here in our solution rates,” Dixon said. “Normally we’re twice the national average in everything, but we’re having more crime. We can continue to solve them, but we’re just having more crime.”
At least one of the shootings, on 10th Street, is believed to have been gang-related, Dixon said.
While Lake Charles doesn’t have the type of gang activity bigger cities see, it does have the Get Money Boys, which Dixon called a “loose federation of thugs.”
Dixon said if participation in a street gang can be proved, the Police Department will ask prosecutors to charge suspects with participating in a criminal enterprise.
“Why are we dealing with this guy?” Dixon asked of El Jerico Jermiah Bartie, who is suspected of at least one drive-by shooting on Cline Street.
When police announced themselves outside his hotel room in Sulphur, Bartie fired through the door and through the wall, authorities said. Bartie also reportedly shot his wife before surrendering. No officers or other hotel guests were hurt.
Bartie has been arrested 13 times since 2005 — once for attempted second-degree murder in 2006 — Dixon said. He also has three convictions for drug offenses.
Dixon called it “frustrating and aggravating” that Bartie was still on the streets.
“It’s by the grace of God and good training and good tactics by our SWAT team that nobody was hurt,” Dixon said. “But law enforcement should not have to be put through this when somebody has already proven he does not deserve to be in society.”
Dixon said he is confident Bartie will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. “How many other chances do you deserve? Zero,” Dixon said. “We should never have to deal with him as law enforcement or as a society. Hopefully he’ll never see daylight again.”
The subjects of investigations seem to be getting younger. Overall, juvenile arrests are rising, the police chief said. In a shooting on 10th Street, two of the suspects are 17 and 16.
“It almost seems like it’s becoming a fad to be involved in criminal activity,” Dixon said. “I learned a long time ago that if we want to stop bad behavior, we have to hold people accountable, and it seems like we as a society don’t want to hold people accountable.”
Information on the shootings was gathered from Lake Charles police and Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office news releases and from Dixon:
Monday, July 21 — Two masked men shot a person on Winterhalter Street. At 3 a.m., the men are believed to have struck again, robbing and pistol-whipping another person. The gun is believed to have malfunctioned, Dixon said. There are no suspects.
Tuesday, July 23 — An argument led to a double shooting at 2206 10th St. The suspects fled, but were apprehended based on a vehicle description. Kendall Dywayne Pouchie Jr., 19, Ja’Von Christopher Parker, 17, and a 16-year-old boy were arrested for attempted second-degree murder. Parker had a previous armed robbery arrest, Dixon said.
Tuesday, July 23 — A drive-by shooting happened at about 1 a.m. at 2801 Cline St. Shots were fired through a window; a female was inside, but not hit. Dixon said shell casings are being compared with those from other incidents.
Friday, July 25 — Another drive-by shooting on Cline Street, this time at 2216 at about 1:45 a.m. While a person was sitting outside, a blue or dark green vehicle (possibly a Dodge Neon) drove by shooting, then turned around and drove by firing again. A 3-year-old and a 4-year-old were in the home, which had windows and a glass front door shattered. Some witnesses were cooperative, others weren’t, Dixon said.
Friday, July 25 — At about 2:30 a.m., a person was shot in the back at the corner of 10 Avenue and Seventh Street. There are no suspects.
Friday, July 25 — At 3:08 p.m., 2216 Cline St. was struck again. Shots were fired from a blue Dodge Neon, hitting one person, authorities said. The vehicle was located at 1121 Giovanni St. Amber Trahan was arrested for attempted second-degree murder and assault by drive-by shooting. El Jerico Jermiah Bartie is also believed to have been in the vehicle, Dixon said.
Saturday, July 27 — When Sulphur and Lake Charles police tried to apprehend Bartie at the Super 8 hotel in Sulphur, he reportedly fired through the wall and through the door. He eventually surrendered, but not before shooting his wife. Two weapons were recovered from the room, Dixon said. He was charged with eight counts of attempted first-degree murder, attempted second-degree murder and four counts of attempted manslaughter. His wife, Katie Mancil, was arrested as an accessory after the fact to attempted second-degree murder. Two others, LaBrandon Jermain Bartie and Jessica Bartie, were arrested Monday as accessories.
Sunday, July 27 — An 18-year-old man was shot three times with a small-caliber weapon after a fight in the 1300 block of St. Mary. The victim was treated and released from a hospital. Police have possible suspects, Dixon said.
Sunday, July 27 — Shots were reportedly fired from a black truck toward a home on E. Prien Lake Road. No one was hit, and a witness was able to get a description of the vehicle. Donald J. Ellis was arrested by the Sheriff’s Office for assault by drive-by shooting and aggravated criminal property damage.
Posted By: Frances Butler On: 8/1/2014
Finally! Someone came forth with a very highly intelligent solution. I totally agree that MORE MONEY is definitely not the answer. Trying to instill fear in the public by prophesying "increase in crime" is not the solution to try to obtain more funding. "Fixing the justice system" is the solution. I am currently living in an area where the crime is double that of Lake Charles and law enformement is not asking more funding.
Posted By: CTtcg On: 7/31/2014
The city can't "afford it", which is why they won't hire more officers. And they can't afford it because why? The mayor has been in office what like over a dozen years now. What's changed? Not much. Has the city annexed more places to get property tax revenue? We all know that it hasn't. And yet the people surrounding it in south Lake Charles use every service in the City, but don't want to pay for it...
Posted By: Jim McCartney On: 7/31/2014
Title: Justice System
Not even increasing manpower for the Police and Sheriff Departments will help if the justice system fails. Judges are allowing far too many plea deals with repeat offenders, and it would appear that the defense aspect is far more savvy than the prosecution when it comes to trying cases.
You want better protection? Sure.....I'm for hiring more law enforcement officers too; but fix the justice system and crime will decrease.
Finally, kuddos to our law enforcement (e.g. Lake Charles, Sulphur, CPSO, and others...) for the actions they've taken in dealing with the recent crime sprees. Their level of expertise and commitment is reflective of their actions. They've managed to make arrests in every case without having to employ deadly force, even when a deadly force assault was rendered against them.
Posted By: Citizen 61004 On: 7/30/2014
Title: Re: Richard
Go to the Mayor and City Council. Chief Dixon has been asking for increased man power for years. He even stepped up the request for man power this year. IT HAS BEEN DENIED by the Mayor and Council.
Posted By: Richard On: 7/30/2014
Our local government administration and elected officials all need to increase the amount of protection for the local citizens. Hire more law enforcement and judges with the expectation that our area will not be allowed to become a place of refuge for hooligans and criminals.
Enough bad things have happened in a short span of time that a reasonable person will recognize that crime is spiraling out of control in our area.
We need strong and deliberate leadership and most importantly cooperation by all citizens to support local law enforcement.
Posted By: Will On: 7/30/2014
Title: Appreciation for Law Enforcement
Our law enforcement agencies deserve the public's help and continued assistance. Fund for rapid expansion of all law enforcement agencies should occur asap not after the situation has become more dire.