Arrest made in recent motel invasion

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 31, 2012



LAPLACE – A LaPlace man was arrested for armed robbery and false imprisonment after authorities say he forced his way into a hotel room, robbed a guest inside, then locked her in the bathroom.

Donnie Gerald, 22, of 135 Comeaux Court was also booked on assorted drug charges Wednesday after deputies discovered drugs and drug paraphernalia at his home and inside a room he had stayed in at the hotel where the robbery took place. Capt. Dane Clement said Gerald was arrested Wednesday morning at a store not far from his home.

Clement said deputies were called to the LaPlace Motel, 918 Airline Highway, at 3:30 a.m. Wednesday in response to the armed robbery. The victim, a 36-year-old woman from Kennard, Texas, told deputies a man dressed in black and wearing a toboggan hat forced his way into her motel room armed with a handgun. She said the man took her car keys, bank cards, cash, cell phones and cosmetic items.

A report on the incident stated that the man then taped the woman’s hands behind her back and forced her into the bathroom. He then secured the door shut with a chair.

Clement said authorities do not know how the woman, who had been staying at the hotel for the past two months while working on an industrial job, escaped the bathroom. She was not injured.

Clement said investigators found various witnesses willing to assist in the investigation and were able to develop a suspect rapidly. The woman was able to identify Gerald from a six-person photo lineup.

Detectives also learned that Gerald had been a guest at the motel. Clement said when detectives went to Gerald’s room he was not there, but authorities found assorted narcotics scattered about the room. While looking for Gerald at his home, detectives discovered items stolen from the robbery and evidence from the crime scene. He was arrested a short time later.

Gerald was booked with armed robbery, false imprisonment with a dangerous weapon, two counts of possession with intent to distribute a schedule I controlled dangerous substance, possession with intent to distribute a schedule II controlled dangerous substance and possession with intent to distribute a schedule IV controlled dangerous substance. He is being held at the Sherman Walker Correctional Center.