In the wake of the fatal shooting of Thibodaux man, the public met with law enforcement officials tonight to discuss ways to curb the violence.
Thibodaux Councilwoman Constance Johnson sponsored the meeting, which was held at the St. Luke Community Center.
“Due to the shootings that have been happening in our community, many residents contacted me to hold a meeting to discuss some of the issues that we are facing in the city,” Johnson said.
Thibodaux Police charged John Washington in the May 25 fatal shooting of 22-year-old Travontae Williams.
Shortly after 2 a.m. Thibodaux Police responded to the 1400 block of Plantation Road after reported gunshots. On scene, police found Williams’ body. Police say he died from at least two gunshot wounds.
Police Chief Bryan Zeringue told attendees that the recent spate of shootings are drug-related, and steps are being taken to combat them.
“Everything ties to drugs,” Zeringue said. “It’s a serious issue. The biggest problem is getting people to come forward to assist us with these investigations. I understand everybody’s concerned about retaliation because we know what we’re up against, and there are certain gangs in parts of town causing a lot of the problems.”
Zeringue said several of the suspects involved in the shootings are also from neighboring parishes.
“So we’re dealing with Terrebonne, Lafourche, Assumption and Thibodaux,” he said. “We’re asking members of the community to tell us what they think we can do more as a community to work together to stop these things. I’m open to suggestions.”
To stem drug activity, Zeringue said he assembled a housing unit to work with the Thibodaux Housing Authority to build community relations.
The department is also targeting blighted homes and abandoned vehicles that are used by drug dealers, Zeringue said.
“That’s what they’re utilizing to either hide in or store their stuff in,” the police chief said. “When it comes to private property we need your help. You don’t have to give your names to us. Just let us know about an address or area that we need to deal with.”
Lafourche Assistant District Attorney Melody Bridgewater said combating violent crime doesn’t end with an arrest.
“We need witnesses to step forward and don’t recant what they say to police later on,” Bridgewater said. “Even though a person is arrested they have a right to take it to trial. If that arrest is based on an eyewitness account and that witness decides to pull out, there’s no case. We need the community’s support. We’re all in this together.”
Johnson urged residents to step up and do their part to fight crime.
“We all have to take responsibility,” she said. “We all have to work together. We made progress in this city but still have a lot to do.”
In addition to the shootings, Lafourche Councilman Jerry Jones, Councilwoman Luci Sposito, parish administration and other parish officials discussed preliminary plans for the Heroes Park expansion project.
In 2017, the parish bought 12 acres of land across from the current Heroes Park on Veterans Boulevard.
Duplantis Design Group presented the draft plans for the park, which include four, 200-foot baseball and softball fields, a walking trail, playground, open pavilion with basketball courts and the possibility of beach volleyball and horseshoe areas. Depending on the final size of the fields, the parish may also be able to include flag football fields.
--Staff Writer Dan Copp can be reached at 446-7639 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @DanVCopp.