Archive for July, 2009

Virtual Tour: New Lake Charles Airport


To see a virtual tour of the new Lake Charles Regional Airport, CLICK HERE.


July 28, 2009 at 6:52 pm

Man killed after robbery released from jail in May

*published Jul 28, 2009

A Lake Charles man who was killed Thursday by Mobile, Ala., police after he robbed a bank there had been released from a Lafayette Parish jail in May after armed robbery charges were dropped.

James Allan Hill had been in jail for 18 months awaiting trial, but in the two weeks before the trial was set to begin, “what little evidence we had at first didn’t pan out,” said Lafayette District Attorney Michael Harson.

The charge accused Hill of committing an armed robbery in Scott, just west of Lafayette. “We had the ski mask, but couldn’t get any DNA” from it, Harson said. Other factors in Hill’s release:

A photo from the ATM security camera could not be matched with face-recognition software to other photos of Hill. The person who initially identified Hill later said he picked the wrong guy. A week before the trial, two alibi witnesses testified under oath that Hill was with them.

At the time of his release, Hill said he was innocent and blamed bad DNA as the reason for his arrest.

His criminal record goes back about 30 years and includes multiple charges of theft, escape, burglary and bank robbery, including for heists in Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi.

During the Thursday incident in Mobile, Hill reportedly wore a hooded jacket with a scarf and goggles as he tried to rob a local bank.

Hill fled in an Acura Legend and led Mobile police on an eight-mile, 18-minute car chase, which ended when he crashed in a church parking lot, authorities said.

Police said that as Hill exited the car, he pointed an air pistol — which appeared to be a real handgun — at five officers, who fired at least 30 rounds at him.

Those officers are now subject to a police investigation.

article link:

July 28, 2009 at 5:55 pm

IN WESTLAKE: Local golfers teed off at proposed fees for development course

*published Jul 28, 2009

WESTLAKE — Golf rates for the city’s National Golf Course of Louisiana was a contentious topic Monday at a City Council special meeting.

The council, minus John Cradure, split on whether to accept the rates. Wally Anderson and Bob Hardey voted against them, and Lori Peterson and Dan Racca voted for them.

The rates, explained by Aaron Czajka (pronounced tshay-ka), regional manager for Billy Casper Golf, were derived from research from the company’s 180 other courses and from research of area golf courses.

The rates for residents of Westlake would be $30 on weekdays and $40 on weekends, with senior and junior rates of $18 and $28.

Rates would also vary depending on the time of day. Golf cart rentals — of $14 per rider — would be optional except on weekdays and holidays.

Czajka said he visited other nearby courses — Graywood, Coushatta, L’Auberge — and felt the city had a “market leader in experience for the avid golfer.”

“What we have here isn’t a $20 course,” Czajka said.

“It’s not a $30 course,” said Peterson, citing services and the value of the homes being built around the course.

Phillip Abshire, the accountant who consults with the city, backed Czajka’s proposal.

“They have done their homework. They know what type of course is out there and the projected rounds that will be played,” Abshire said.

Czajka said the council can review and adjust rates at any time. He suggested a quarterly review.

About a dozen people — half from the city and half from Lake Charles and elsewhere — attended the meeting.

Gary Anderson, who lives in Ward 4 in the outlying areas of Westlake said he didn’t agree with the council’s decision.

“Money still drives people,” he said. “If the prices are out of reach, you won’t have enough people to support the course.”

Ron Hughes of Westlake said he has memberships at Mallard Cove and Frasch golf courses and doesn’t plan to switch, even though he would be eight blocks away, mainly because of the price.

article link:

July 28, 2009 at 5:46 pm

IN WESTLAKE: Home dream comes true

*published July 21, 2009
Father buys home with help of new Section 8 education plan

Orlando Parr poses with his father, William Upshaw; his children, Coneshia Parr, Orlando Parr, Jr. and Iveary Parr; and his sister, Dache’ Upshaw in the kitchen of his new home located in Westlake Monday. BY KAREN WINK

Orlando Parr poses with his father, William Upshaw; his children, Coneshia Parr, Orlando Parr, Jr. and Iveary Parr; and his sister, Dache’ Upshaw in the kitchen of his new home located in Westlake Monday. BY KAREN WINK

WESTLAKE — The rain couldn’t dampen Orlando Parr’s spirits Thursday afternoon as he received the keys to his new home.

Parr participated in a Section 8 program that helps people transition to home ownership.

Deborah Tate, a housing specialist with the Calcasieu Parish Housing Department, talked about meeting Parr in 2003 when the single father of three came to the area from Chicago.

“When he told me he would like to own a home one day, I told him about the program. He said he wanted to immediately join the program,” Tate said.

Police Jury President Hal McMillan welcomed Parr to the city and encouraged him and his children to use the recreation facilities and said he would enjoy the hometown spirit.

Parr, speaking quietly, thanked the Section 8 specialists for their help and his pastor, the Rev. Charles Robertson, for giving him inspiration each week.

“This is a good program,” Parr said. “And I would like to cherish this moment and let other people know they will help you if you want to own a home.”

Parr said he was especially happy about the neighborhood, saying he drove around and checked it out and liked the curfew the city has in place.

His 12-year-old son, Orlando Jr., gave a smiling, impromptu tour of their home on McCloud Street.

The Section 8 homeowner program began in Calcasieu Parish in 2002. Its goal is to give participants all the education they need to become homeowners on their own, Tate said.

She said anyone eligible for Section 8 rental housing is eligible for the ownership program, and that they are accepted based on income requirements.

“If they qualify, we do a credit check. If it’s not up to par, we have credit counseling to help them clean it up,” Tate said.

Participants then take a home-buying class.

When both steps are accomplished, participants can look for a home and work with any real estate agency or go through the U.S. Department of Agricul–ture’s Rural Development Office, which can also do the financing.

article link:

July 21, 2009 at 9:17 pm

Inside concealed gun class

*published July 20, 2009

Firearms safety instructor Matthew Courtney holds a handgun during a concealed handgun permit class. The nine-hour class is required for Louisiana residents applying for a concealed handgun permit. BY VANESSA DEGGINS

Firearms safety instructor Matthew Courtney holds a handgun during a concealed handgun permit class. The nine-hour class is required for Louisiana residents applying for a concealed handgun permit. BY VANESSA DEGGINS

Louisiana’s concealed handgun permit is accepted in 32 other states. That number can change each year that state police survey other states.

The American Press spent this past Saturday in Matthew Courtney’s nine-hour class.

Louisiana requires firearms instructors to be NRA or P.O.S.T (Peace Officer Standards and Training) certified.

Courtney teaches the class in a rhetorical fashion, engaging the participants in discussion of each topic and having them stand and demonstrate stance and shooting techniques with unloaded guns.

Also, most of his classes are small groups of three to seven people.

After learning the names of different parts of the gun, Courtney taught the NRA’s three rules for Safe Gun handling, with video examples of what happens when you violate a rule.

Always keep your gun pointed in a safe direction, always keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot and always keep the gun unloaded until you are ready to use it.

In the child access prevention class, each participant talked about their first encounter with guns.

Courtney then showed the different types of gun locks and methods to prevent unauthorized persons from your gun, saying if the gun is not on you, it is essentially not within your control.

One of the longest segments, was going over the language of Louisiana’s laws on justifiable use of force, which is only allowed when there is a threat on human life.

What is your definition of “reasonable belief to do harm?” It depends on the person’s intent and ability to do harm. And what about “ability?” That can be a weapon or another disparity of force.

How about “great bodily harm?” Well that’s any damage to you that has permanent or long-lasting effect.

Does that still seem a little vague? Courtney said every situation is different and you would have to consider the totality of the circumstances.

Half-way through the class, another instructor, Todd Baudin, came to help coach participants on their shooting stance practice.

The classroom section ended with learning what areas you can not take a concealed weapon and how to properly conceal your pistol. There is a negligent carrying of a concealed handgun charge that can fetch you a $500 fine.

On the gun range, the final qualification requires you to hit a target within the silhouette six times each from three different distances.

For further practice, Courtney allowed each participant to practice on a rotating target. Can you guess who hit three out of six targets, more than any other participant, including the instructor?
On the Net:

For laws, fees, a list of states that accept Louisiana’s concealed handgun permit and application forms:

article link:

July 20, 2009 at 6:07 pm

Calcasieu meth lab 10th found in ’09

South Lake Charles drug operation leads to 3 arrests
*published July 18, 2009
The methamphetamine lab that was dismantled Thursday was the 10th one found in Calcasieu Parish this year, authorities said.

“It seems to work in cycles,” said Lt. Billy Chapman with the parish drug task force. “We have not been inundated like other areas of the country, but we certainly have our issues with the drug.”

Most of the labs authorities find are small scale, with operations that produce enough of the drug for four or five people, Chapman said. These home labs usually can only produce 10 to 15 grams at a time, he said.

Chapman said most of the meth entering the area is a finished product smuggled in from along the Mexico-U.S. border through Houston. He said it originates in “super labs” that can produce the drug several kilograms at a time.

The people who ran the meth lab that local authorities discovered this week mixed their chemicals in one container to produce the drug, Chapman said. The concoction — including ammonia and other noxious substances — builds up pressure as it cooks and can explode, he said.

Calcasieu detectives, state police and Drug Enforcement Administration officers worked until about 11:30 p.m. Thursday to dismantle the lab, which was found at 215 Heather St. in south Lake Charles.

The incident reportedly began at about 4:30 p.m. when narcotics detectives went to the home to investigate drug activity. When they arrived, they smelled methamphetamine cooking, officials said.

Three people were arrested. Jordan R. Sarvaunt, 22, was charged with operating a clandestine lab and possession of hydrocodone.

John A. Petty, 33, was charged with operating a clandestine lab, possession of Xanax and methamphetamine, and illegally carrying a weapon.

Erica N. Smith, 23, was charged with operating a clandestine lab.

Along with methamphetamine, detectives reportedly found 10 Xanax pills and 17 hydrocodone pills.

article link:

July 19, 2009 at 1:33 am

Meth lab found; neighbors asked to evacuate

Calcasieu Sheriff Tony Mancuso said when officers arrived they smelled methamphetamine being cooked.

*published July 18, 2009

A routine investigation Thursday evening turned up a clandestine methamphetamine lab at a residence, authorities said.

At about 6:30 p.m., detectives arrested Jordan R. Sarvaunt, Erica Sarvaunt and John A. Petty, who is the owner of the home, at 215 Heather St., and charged them with creating a clandestine lab. Calcasieu Sheriff Tony Mancuso said authorities received a call earlier in the day about drug activity and went to the home to question the residents. When they arrived, they smelled methamphetamine being cooked, he said.

Methamphetamine, which is made in part with antifreeze and denatured alcohol, emits a strong odor similar to that of cat urine or fingernail polish. The concoction is flammable and hazardous.

Mancuso said officers called the Fire Department, secured the area, and sought a a search warrant.

After initially asking nearby residents to stay in their homes, detectives then imposed a voluntary evacuation on Heather Street between Central Parkway and Ashland Avenue.

The local Drug Enforcement Administration office will send a hazardous-waste company to clean up the scene, Mancuso said.

“We seem to go through these cycles where we find them (home meth labs),” Mancuso said. “It just doesn’t make any sense to put this many people in danger doing this.”

One neighbor, who declined to give her name, said she suspected drug activity at the home for a long time and expressed relief that detectives had made arrests.

State police hazmat officers were brought in to stabilize the lab so it could be dismantled and disposed of.

article link:

July 18, 2009 at 1:47 am

Officer accused of assault, battery

Off-duty corporal allegedly struck someone in head with his handgun
*published July 15, 2009

An off-duty Lake Charles police officer was arrested Monday evening in Sulphur after he struck someone with a firearm and refused to let anyone leave a residence, authorities said.

Anthony J. Hebert, 31, of Sulphur, has been charged with seven counts of false imprisonment with a dangerous weapon, six counts of aggravated assault, and one count each of aggravated burglary and aggravated battery.

He was booked into the Sulphur city jail and was later released on $140,000 bond set by Judge Mike Canaday.

Lake Charles police Sgt. Mark Kraus confirmed that Hebert, a corporal, was placed on administrative leave with pay pending an internal investigation.

He said Hebert has been with the department for seven years and works in the patrol division, but would not comment further.

According to a Sulphur Police Department news release, at around 9 p.m. officers investigated a call on North Stanford Street about a man with a gun.

The victims said Hebert had come to the residence to see someone about a child custody dispute.

Calcasieu Parish Clerk of Court records list Hebert as divorced, but Sulphur police did not say whether the dispute was with his ex-wife, who, according to records, has remarried.

After a confrontation in the front yard, Hebert entered the home with a handgun and would not let anyone leave, police said. He allegedly struck someone there on the side of the head with the handgun.

Hebert left the residence and was later told that Sulphur police were at his home looking for him, authorities said.

Sulphur police have not said whether alcohol was involved or if they suspect impairment.

American Press archives show no negative record for Hebert, who was mentioned in an August 2008 article that told how he and another officer pulled a man from an apartment fire.

article link:

July 16, 2009 at 12:17 am

Curfew Crackdown

Night moves: Police increase curfew details for summer
*published July 14, 2009
In response to an increase in juvenile arrests, the Lake Charles Police Department has boosted its curfew details.
The American Press was invited to ride along on this year’s first detail on July 9-10.
From 11 p.m. to 5 a.m., police stopped eight juveniles out after curfew.
The details, started in 2007, were the department’s response to data that showed an increase in juvenile crimes and arrests during the summer months.
“They are committing crimes and also becoming victims of crimes,” said Sgt. Kevin Kirkum, who has worked on the detail since it began.
A city ordinance says no one younger than 17 can be out past 11 p.m. on weekdays and midnight on weekends.
The first time juveniles are stopped, they are taken to their parent or guardian, who is informed of the ordinance. The next time, the adults may face steadily increasing fines.
On the Thursday-night detail, most of the juveniles were stopped within the first two hours.
At 11:23 p.m., a 16-year-old was stopped riding his bike. He told officers that he was on his way to his grandmother’s house. After police got no answer at the grandmother’s home, he was taken to his mother.

Lake Charles police Officer Keith Bertrand releases a 16-year-old girl to her parent at their Prejean Apartment Complex residence after as she was out past curfew early Friday morning. BY BRAD K. PUCKETT

Lake Charles police Officer Keith Bertrand releases a 16-year-old girl to her parent at their Prejean Apartment Complex residence after as she was out past curfew early Friday morning. BY BRAD K. PUCKETT

As the mother filled out paperwork with the officers she spoke to her son: “You already have a brother in jail. Can you help me out here?
“I’m sure he was going to his grandmother’s house, but he shouldn’t be out this late at all.”
The mother said she is glad the city has the detail and hopes it makes her son think about his actions.

Police plan to run the detail several more times during the summer.

Lake Charles police Cpl. Shad Edwards releases a teenager to his mother at their Rose Street residence after the boy was found out past curfew. BY BRAD K. PUCKETT

Lake Charles police Cpl. Shad Edwards releases a teenager to his mother at their Rose Street residence after the boy was found out past curfew. BY BRAD K. PUCKETT

At around 2 a.m., two 16-year-old girls were stopped walking on Prejean Street. They said they were going to visit a friend. Police later learned the girls were supposed to be at a cousin’s house for the night and had sneaked out.
One girl was released to an aunt, who appeared to be confused by the whole situation.
“I’m not sure where she was. I was just home asleep and they (the officers) called and asked if I would take her,” the aunt said.
The other girl was taken to her mother, who said the girl has never sneaked out, but that she was supposed to be at a cousin’s house.
“We usually get a lot of parents asking us why we’re hassling their teenagers,” said Sgt. Gary Geheb.
After the detail continued, police broke up an adult house party that had spilled into the street.
The night ended with officers stopping three boys — two age 17 and one 16 — in a stolen truck.

Lake Charles Police Officer Keith Bertrand and Cpl. William Nevels talk to a relative of a 16-year-old girl who was out past curfew early Friday morning at the Prejean Apartment Complex. BY BRAD K. PUCKETT

Lake Charles Police Officer Keith Bertrand and Cpl. William Nevels talk to a relative of a 16-year-old girl who was out past curfew early Friday morning at the Prejean Apartment Complex. BY BRAD K. PUCKETT

article link:

July 14, 2009 at 7:28 pm

Combined efforts result in arrests of fugitives locally, across nation

*published July 13, 2009

A month-long joint fugitive apprehension effort led to the arrest of 58 fugitives and cleared 66 outstanding warrants in Calcasieu Parish.

During June, Operation FALCON — Federal and Local Cops Organized Nationally — targeted violent offenders, gang members and sex offenders with registration violations, said Beau Bartel of the U.S. Marshals Lake Charles office.

This is the sixth nationwide operation since the program began in 2005. Since 2002, the Lake Charles division has arrested 887 fugitives.

In Calcasieu Parish, about 50 officers — from the Lake Charles Police Department, Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office, Marshals Service, FBI and Probation and Parole — participated in the operation.

The law enforcers in the western district of Louisiana, which consists of Shreveport, Monroe, Alexandria, Lake Charles and Lafayette, arrested 165 fugitives and cleared 205 warrants.

Nationally, 35,190 fugitives were arrested and 47,418 warrants were cleared.

The goal of the operation is to remove as many violent offenders from the streets as possible and help reduce the number of backlogged open warrants, according to the Department of Justice Web site.

article link:

July 13, 2009 at 12:21 am

Older Posts