Fleeing Vacherie man jumps from bridge

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 27, 2011



GRAMERCY – For the fourth straight day Friday, search crews from State police and other local law enforcement agencies continued their search for a Vacherie man who jumped from the Veterans’ Memorial Bridge in St. James Parish into the Mississippi River following a high speed chase through St. James Parish.

Trooper Russell Graham, spokesman for State Police Troop A, said authorities from State Police Air Support, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, the St. James and St. John the Baptist parish sheriff’s offices, the U.S. Coast Guard, and Port of South Louisiana personnel are searching four separate sections of the Mississippi River south of the Veterans Memorial Bridge looking for 22-year-old Kylan Laurent, who jumped from the bridge sometime around 1 p.m. Tuesday. Graham said search crews are using sonar, with searchers on the water and in the air looking for signs of the man.

An arrest warrant has been issued for Laurent in connection with the murder of a woman found Monday in a Kenner hotel room. He is also a “person of interest” in an Aug. 10 murder of a woman and an Aug. 18 assault of another woman, both of which took place in hotel rooms in Jefferson Parish, according to authorities. Police say they found belongings of the woman murdered Monday inside Laurent’s car, which was abandoned on the bridge.

According to Graham, troopers attempted to make a traffic stop on Laurent around 1 p.m. Tuesday on Louisiana Highway 18 in St. James Parish. Graham said troopers had been working with the East Baton Rouge Parish Violent Crimes Unit to track down Laurent, who is also wanted in Baton Rouge on aggravated battery and false imprisonment charges.

Graham said when troopers initiated the stop, Laurent immediately fled in his 2005 Chevrolet Impala. A high-speed chase then ensued eastbound on Louisiana Highway 18 toward the bridge. Graham said Laurent drove onto the bridge, stopped near the top on the right shoulder, exited his car and jumped over the bridge railing into the river. A State Police officer was hospitalized with moderate injuries as a result of a crash during the pursuit, Graham said.

Members of Laurent’s family, as well as others in the community, declined comment to the media.

Kenner Police said Laurent is wanted in connection with the slaying of Anita McDonald, 22, who was found dead inside a room at the Comfort Suites in Kenner. Kenner Police Chief Steve Caraway said a combination of surveillance video, computer and phone records linked Laurent to the murder. Investigators said they believe Laurent strangled McDonald with his bare hands and even tried to tie her up.

Caraway said it appeared the crime was meticulously planned rather than performed in the heat of passion. He said the suspect did a good job of cleaning the room and not leaving any evidence behind.

Caraway said Kenner Police is working with other agencies to determine if Laurent can be linked to the incidents in Jefferson Parish. One took place in a Metairie hotel and the other in a Harvey hotel.