Nine arrested in what authorities describe as ‘gang shooting’

Published 8:42 pm Monday, September 13, 2021

A group of nine individuals, including three adults and six juveniles, were arrested over the weekend in connection with a shooting in DeRidder that authorities have labeled as “criminal gang activity.”

Quantavious D. Williams, 19, of Leesville was arrested in Vernon Parish and charged with criminal conspiracy to commit illegal use of weapon or dangerous instrumentalities and with criminal conspiracy to commit aggravated assault with a firearm.

Thea Hall, 39, of DeRidder was charged with contributing to the delinquency of minors and for letting a disorderly place.

Ashunti Baggett, 19, of DeRidder was charged with contributing to the delinquency of minors, criminal conspiracy to commit illegal use of weapon or dangerous instrumentalities, and criminal conspiracy to commit aggravated assault with a firearm.

Authorities said the six juveniles arrested have all been charged for crimes of illegal use of weapon or dangerous instrumentalities, aggravated criminal damage to property, aggravated assault with a firearm, criminal conspiracy to commit illegal use of a weapon, and criminal conspiracy to commit aggravated assault with a firearm.

According to Beauregard Parish Sheriff Mark Herford, the arrests were the result of a joint investigation with the DeRidder Police Department into a shooting that occurred Saturday, Sept. 11, at 1:30 a.m. outside a residence in the 500 block of West 8th Street.

Investigators determined that a vehicle approached the residence and an exchange of gunfire occurred between the individuals at the residence and those inside the vehicle. As a result of the shooting, one residence and one vehicle across the street were struck with stray bullets, but there were no injuries.

Herford said the shooting was a follow-up to a fight that occurred between a group of juveniles from Leesville and a group of juveniles from DeRidder who had gotten into a fight Friday night after a football game.

Herford said the juveniles from DeRidder left the game and went to the residence on West 8th Street while the juveniles from Leesville met up at a fast food restaurant in DeRidder. The juveniles from Leesville decided to drive by the residence on 8th Street, resulting in the gunfire exchange.

The weekend’s investigation resulted in multiple search warrants on residences, and the seizure of eight firearms.

Herford said more arrests are expected.

The shooting highlights an increase in activity in the area that Herford and DeRidder Police Chief Craig Richard have both declared as “criminal gang activity” over the past several months involving individuals from DeRidder, Leesville and Alexandria.

Herford said “this type of criminal gang activity will not be tolerated in our city and parish.”

In response to the shooting, both Herford and Richard announced a task force has been dedicated to investigating the gang activity.

“Protecting the citizens of DeRidder and Beauregard Parish against these so-called gangs will remain a top priority for our departments. The task force has every resource available to investigate and arrest those involved to eliminate this criminal activity. There will be a zero tolerance approach when it comes to protecting our communities,” Herford said.