Residents point to gangs in recent wave of violence

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 24, 2012



GARYVILLE – With the recent increase of violent crime in Garyville over the past four months, highlighted by the murder Monday of a 32-year-old man, many residents of the area say there is cause for concern over safety.

“It is bad right now,” said Lyle Williams, who was out walking his dog near the scene of Monday’s shooting in front of Bardell’s Grocery, a regular hangout for residents. “Many of us are asking what we did to get to this point and what do we need to do to stop it. I think we are all tired of seeing people we know get buried.”

Just after 9 p.m. Monday, St. John the Baptist Parish sheriff’s deputies arrived at the 100 block of Little Hope Street in Garyville and found Travis Turner, who was shot multiple times near the front door of the grocery in what authorities say was an ambush. Turner is the third person to be killed in Garyville since December and the fourth homicide of 2012 in St. John Parish.

“There is a sense of fear among people,” Williams said. “You can say they are isolated incidents, but nobody wins when people are getting killed at this rate.”

The Sheriff’s Office has released no suspects or motive in Turner’s death, but investigators do believe the gunman targeted Turner. No one else was injured, despite the store being open for business. Deputies gathered limited information from witnesses at the scene.

Turner’s murder came less than two months after his cousin, 23-year-old Kevin Ferrygood, was shot to death near the intersection of South Fig Street and Daisy Street, just a few blocks from where Turner died. In December, Garland Randall of LaPlace was shot and killed while sitting in a vehicle at the intersection of River Road and Earl Baloney Street.      

Some Garyville residents out Wednesday afternoon said the shootings are the result of long-running feuds between two neighborhood gangs that started with a shooting at a graduation party in 2009 and has turned into a turf war between the front part of the neighborhood and the back.

“We are trying to rise above it all, but there are just some people who cannot escape it,” said Leon Hardy, another resident. “I know Travis to be a family man, so this just does not make sense.”

Sheriff’s Office spokesman Capt. Dane Clement said the investigation has turned up no indication that the three recent shootings are related. He would not discuss whether gangs were operating in the neighborhood because of the ongoing investigation.

No one has been booked in Ferrygood’s murder, but authorities have arrested Craig Lee Jr., 23, of Reserve and Devonte Johnson, 18, of LaPlace, who were both considered “persons of interest” in the shooting. The pair was booked on other crimes. Three men were arrested in connection with Randall’s murder, which is believed to be related to other crimes.

Clement said investigators are having a hard time gathering information regarding Turner’s murder.

“We know there were people in the store, but we are not getting much information,” he said. “All we can do is chip away at what we have.”