President Obama visits Baton Rouge shooting victim in Colorado

This story was published on page A1 of The Advocate on July 24, 2012.  Here is the sidebar that details how the two Baton Rouge women ended up in Aurora on that fateful night. 

After a long day of surgery followed by visits from doctors, detectives and journalists, shooting victim Bonnie Kate Pourciau, of Baton Rouge, was recovering Sunday in her Colorado hospital bed when an unexpected visitor popped his head around her door.

It was President Barack Obama.

“Can I come in?” he asked her.

“I was like, ‘Whoa, there’s the president!’ ” Pourciau said. “It was really cool. I felt so honored. I got to shake his hand and give him a hug. He was very friendly.”

While standing next to Pourciau’s hospital bed, Obama told her the hardest part of his job is visiting Americans who have been wounded, both in wars and in tragedies.

The president had just come from visiting others who were in worse shape than Pourciau, she said.

“It has been traumatic. I still haven’t begun to process all that happened,” Pourciau said of the shooting. “And thinking about everything, it’s a terrible, terrible, awful thing, but God is holding us and he has us in control and we’re gonna be okay.”

Obama told Pourciau she was an inspiration to him and he loved seeing her smile. He told her she was going to bounce back.

“It was so special to be encouraged by him like that,” she said.

Pourciau, 18, was shot in the knee early Friday during one of the deadliest mass shootings in American history. Read more of this post

Juvenile fugitives caught — police baffled by Jetson director’s claimed ‘chase’

This story was published in The Advocate on July 9, 2012. 

Authorities found and arrested two juvenile fugitives late Saturday, hours after the facility’s director was placed on administrative leave for engaging in a chase “on his own,” said a spokeswoman Sunday.

Director Daron Brown

The administrator left law enforcement agencies from Baton Rouge to New Orleans confused Sunday after he claimed to have chased an SUV Friday night thought to be carrying two juvenile escapees. Some authorities, however, questioned whether the two-hour, high-speed pursuit even happened.

“Everything was unfounded,” said State Police spokesman Sgt. Len Marie. “We had units set up all over the interstate ready to intercept this vehicle as it came through, but it never came through. We don’t even know for a fact that this guy was ever actually involved in a chase.” Read more of this post

Trust key ingredient to fighting local crime

This news analysis ran on the Opinion page of The Advocate on June 27, 2012. View the page here. Or, on The Advocate’s website here. 

In an unlikely partnership, residents of the city’s crime-plagued 70805 ZIP code, many of whom have long distrusted the Baton Rouge Police Department, are now saying they are ready to help the department in its new efforts to fight violent crime in their neighborhood.

The north Baton Rouge ZIP code area accounts for 30 percent of the city’s homicides but only 13 percent of its population.

The success of the Baton Rouge Area Violence Elimination program, or BRAVE, hinges on the ability of the BRAVE unit — made up of five elite officers — to build trust with the community’s law-abiding residents, who are often too afraid to report criminal activity out of fear of retaliation, said Lt. Todd Lee, who helped draft the plan.

Read more of this post

Jurors moved by horrific 911 tape

This story was published in The Advocate on May 21, 2012. 

Prosecutors played a tape recording Saturday of the horrific 911 call that ended with the screams of Patricia Aldridge being shot 13 times by an AK-47, while multiple jurors burst into tears and the defendant, Derrick Gordy, leaned back in his chair and stared straight ahead.

The five-minute tape, recorded on Sept. 30, 2009, started with Aldridge calmly telling the dispatcher that four black male assailants had threatened her son’s life outside their South Sunderland Avenue home. A few minutes later, Aldridge could be heard goading the subjects.

“C’mon, try to hit me … uh huh … c’mon … here they come, here they come,” Aldridge said just before the call suddenly erupted into chilling screams and a barrage of gunfire that lasted between 10 and 30 seconds.

“Ma’am? Ma’am?” the dispatcher asked.

“I’m dead,” Aldridge said, before the sounds of gunfire took over the recording. Read more of this post

Police arrest man during rapper’s trial accused of tweeting threats to DA

This story was published on page A1 of The Advocate on May 9, 2012. 

East Baton Rouge Parish sheriff’s deputies arrested a 21-year-old man Monday for threatening on Twitter to shoot District Attorney Hillar Moore III outside the trial of rapper Torence “Lil Boosie” Hatch, authorities said.

Deputies said they found Dedrick Deandre Green, 14004 Longvue Drive, Baker, sitting in the courtroom Monday afternoon, watching Hatch’s first-degree murder trial.

Green was booked into Parish Prison on felony counts of public intimidation and terrorizing, according to an affidavit of probable cause.

“I got a sniper rifle for Hillar Moore when he walk out the courthouse,” Green posted on Twitter at about 3:40 p.m. Saturday, the affidavit says. Read more of this post

Police link St. Gabriel man to burned gay hairdresser’s corpse through victim’s social media account

This story was published in The Advocate on May 6, 2012. 

East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff Sid Gautreaux announced Thursday the arrest of a suspect in the slaying of a Baton

Rouge hairdresser whose burned body was discovered in the trunk of a car abandoned on the Mississippi River levee.

Gautreaux said events leading up to the murder began Sunday evening when the hairdresser, Roderick White, 33, drove himself to a mobile home in St. Gabriel to meet for the first time with Jason Mascarella, 34, a man he had been chatting with online.

The men had met on either Twitter or Facebook, said Todd Morris, a sheriff’s detective and lead investigator on the case. Read more of this post

After early morning crime spree, robbery suspects arrested

This story was published in The Advocate on April 19, 2012. 

By Adam Lau, The Advocate

Three men were left begging for their lives this week after an armed duo confronted them at gunpoint in separate incidents in the dark, early morning hours outside their Shenandoah homes.

“I was frightened out of my mind,” said Sidney Deloach, 72, who was pistol-whipped and knocked to the ground by the men as he returned home from buying a newspaper about 4:30 a.m. Thursday.

“They both had their guns pointed straight at my head, no more than four or five inches from my head, saying, ‘I’m gonna shoot you,’ ” Deloach said. Read more of this post

Challenge to DA over juvenile’s transfer to adult court could break ground

This news analysis piece was published on the Opinion page of The Advocate on March 21. View the page here.  Or, on the website here.

District Attorney Hillar Moore III said he plans to fight a motion challenging his decision to transfer a juvenile defendant to adult court — an issue that might make its way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The case involves Tyler Coleman, the 16-year-old boy accused of shooting and, officials say, paralyzing Metro Councilman Chandler Loupe’s son.

Moore, like all Louisiana district attorneys, has been largely unchallenged when he has decided to move any 14-, 15- or 16-year-old charged with a serious violent crime to adult court, with no need for a hearing on the issue first. Read more of this post

Drivers relive fatal moment — Pedestrian deaths leave lingering effects

This story was published on page A1 of The Advocate on March 6, 2012. 

Photo by Libby Isenhower, The Advocate — The Rev. James Cowell says his church congregation has helped him heal since unintentionally killing a man three weeks ago.

The Rev. James Cowell, of Walker, ran over and killed a man with his truck three weeks ago.

While police said the shirtless man dove in front of Cowell’s truck at the last second, thus making the accident unavoidable, Cowell, 46, says he will be haunted by that fateful moment — the eye contact, the screeching brakes, the sight of the dead man’s body under his truck — for the rest of his life.

“The fact of the matter is I basically killed that man,” Cowell said, a week after the Feb. 9 accident. “I can’t describe how it feels other than complete shock and disbelief.”

It is a scenario that plays out twice almost every week in Louisiana: a sober driver usually traveling down a dark highway who doesn’t see the pedestrian until the last second before impact, if at all.

Of the 272 drivers who struck and killed a pedestrian in Louisiana since Jan. 1, 2009, 233 were not issued a citation, according to data compiled by Dr. Helmut Schneider, director of LSU Highway Safety Research Group.

Last year, at least 74 drivers were not at fault in the deaths of the pedestrians they struck with their vehicles, according to Schneider’s data. Read more of this post

Councilman’s son shot during alleged drug deal

This story was published in The Advocate on February 6, 2012. 

Metro Councilman Chandler Loupe’s 15-year-old son is expected to live after being shot in the chest Friday evening during an alleged drug deal, a police spokesman said.

The shooting took place in the 1600 block of Mary Lou Drive sometime between 5:30 p.m. and 5:55 p.m., Baton Rouge police spokesman Cpl. L’Jean McKneely said Saturday.

The councilman’s son remained in a local hospital Saturday evening, McKneely said, in “stable but serious condition.”

Chandler Loupe, in an email Saturday night, said: “My son is still in ICU and we are asking for prayers.” Read more of this post