2 suspects in custody as community mourns

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 1, 2014

By Monique Roth

LAPLACE – A violent crime committed Tuesday afternoon at a local mom and pop store stunned the LaPlace community, but thanks to quick action by the St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff’s Office and the community, two suspects have already been arrested.

Dracier Dewey, 22, and Charles McQuarter III, 22, both of Homewood Place in Reserve, have been arrested for their participation in the crime that left one dead and one wounded.

Dewey was first to contact authorities and confess his involvement in the armed robbery and homicide that took place on Tuesday afternoon, authorities said.

Detectives arrested Dewey on Wednesday on a judicial court ordered arrest warrant and booked him with principal to armed robbery, principal to first-degree murder and principal to attempted first-degree murder. His bond was later set at $1.6 million.

St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff Mike Tregre said Dewey provided investigators with a full confession of his role in the robbery and indicated that another man, McQuarter, was the shooter in the crime.

Based on findings during the investigation, detectives sought and obtained a judicial court ordered arrest warrant for McQuarter for his involvement in the armed robbery-homicide.

After authorities were unable to locate him at his home Wednesday, McQuarter turned himself into the U.S. Marshalls Fugitive Task Force midday Thursday.

McQuarter professed his innocence in a profanity-laced comment as he addressed reporters and news crews when he was escorted in handcuffs into a police vehicle for transport.

McQuarter was booked with first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, armed robbery and violating probation. His bond was set at $1.2 million for the charges other than first-degree murder and probation violation, for which there is no bond.

On Tuesday afternoon Steve and Constance Finckbeiner, married owners of LaPlace Feed and Supply, were the victims of a robbery-turned-homicide when two men entered their store and opened fire before fleeing with the store’s cash register.

Tregre explained at a press conference that two men entered the store on Tuesday and inquired about shots for a dog. For whatever reason, owner Steve refused the duo service and the men left the store.

Tregre said that almost immediately the two men re-entered the store and that “things went very bad, very quickly” with the suspects firing a number of shots.

The suspects fled the scene on foot, taking with them the store’s cash register.

Investigators released video surveillance at a press conference of the suspects fleeing from the scene. Two suspects are clearly seen in videos running in a southern direction on Redwood Street near River Road. One of the suspects is shown running with the cash register that was stolen from the store.

A portion of West Fifth Street in LaPlace between Hemlock and Main Street was immediately closed in response to the crime on Sleepy Redwood Street, and several elementary schools in the immediate vicinity were placed on lockdown for portions of Tuesday afternoon.

Two persons of interest were detained Tuesday night for questioning, but were later released because of a lack of evidence tying them to the crime.

The cash register taken from the scene of the crime has yet to be recovered by law enforcement officials. Tregre urges any resident who may see the cash register to not touch it and instead call 9-1-1.

McQuarter’s arrest records reflect a troubled and violent past. In May 2009 he was arrested for disturbing the peace by fighting. In June 2010 he was booked with manufacture/distribution of a schedule I controlled substance, and later that year he was booked with a seatbelt violation and resisting an officer. In Feb. 2012 McQuarter was booked with attempted second degree murder and illegal use of a weapon.

Dewey’s criminal history includes a September 2009 arrest for second-degree battery and criminal damage to property.

Tuesday’s homicide marks the first murder in St. John the Baptist Parish in 2014.