St. James Sheriff: Deputies acted correctly in shooting

Published 12:04 am Wednesday, June 10, 2015

CONVENT — St. James Parish Sheriff Willy Martin Jr. met with Louisiana State Police officials Monday regarding the violent altercation that injured one man after two of his deputies returned gunfire in a May 24 shootout.

“The meeting went well,” Martin said. “Everything the officers reported, including their course of action, corroborated with the evidence gathered at the scene.”

Martin said State Police officials agreed it was a “clean shooting” and “officers had no other course of action” than to return fire.

“I was confident before we went into the meeting,” Martin said, adding evidence confirmed his officers were shot at four times before they fired back.

Martin has made the decision not to publically identify the two involved officers “for their own families’ protection and their own comfort.”

Both officers are back on duty after being immediately placed on paid leave after the shooting, Martin said.

“I know what they went through and how they could have lost their lives,” he said. “We don’t want to exploit them.”

Major Sid Berthelot said the Sheriff’s Office immediately requested the State Police conduct the investigation regarding the shooting because it involved officers.

Martin said the case remains open as the State Police’s Crime Lab processes more DNA evidence. Once complete, the case file will be presented to St. James Parish District Attorney Ricky Babin, who will decide whether or not the deputies will go before a grand jury.

Initial DNA evidence processed from the scene was inconclusive, Martin said, adding additional testing is under way and results should be known by the end of the month.

The DNA will hopefully lead authorities to identify the second civilian shooter, Martin said.

Ron Christopher Youngblood, 45, of Baton Rouge was immediately identified as a shooter in the incident, as Acadian Ambulance was dispatched to the scene in May to render medical attention to him.

Martin said upon Youngblood’s release from the hospital could come this week, adding State Police would arrest Youngblood at that time.

In the State Police’s initial case report, Investigative Specialist Michele Aucoin confirmed, “Youngblood will be charged with two counts of attempted first degree murder.”

Six total people — two deputies and four suspects — were involved in the shootout.

“They said they see nothing that would indict a deputy,” Martin reported after his meeting with State Police.

Berthelot said the Sheriff’s Office will conduct an internal review of the involved officers — neither of whom were injured in the shooting — after the State Police investigation concluded.

Authorities said the case began at approximately 1 a.m. May 24 when the Sheriff’s Office received a call regarding a man carrying a gun and walking along Legion Street in Convent.

Two deputies were near the scene due to a previous call of subjects armed with guns near Winnie Road in Convent. Deputies investigated the first call and found no one in the area around Winnie Road.

“Upon arriving at the second call on Legion Street, deputies came into contact with four male subjects,” Martin said.

“The deputies exited their patrol units and, upon approaching them, one of the subjects opened fire with a handgun.”

The distance between Winnie Road and Legion Street is less than two miles.

Martin said one of the deputies took cover behind a patrol unit while the other took cover behind a nearby tree.

Both deputies returned fire at the shooter, who was firing at them.

The shooter was struck once by the deputies’ gunfire, Martin said, adding his deputies collectively fired 14 or 15 shots.

“While the deputies were approaching the shot suspect, a second suspect began firing at them from a different location,” Martin said. “After shooting at the deputies, the second shooter fled the scene on foot.”

Contrary to an initial press release from the Sheriff’s Office, Martin said no arrests have been made in the case so far.

Martin said anyone with information regarding the case should call the St. James Parish Sheriff’s Office Investigative Division at 225-562-2200 or Crimestoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS.