Tag: Louisiana

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Authorities investigating death of Black teen in Louisiana as homicide

Authorities are investigating the the mysterious death of Black teenager Quawan “Bobby” Charles, whose body was found in a Louisiana sugar cane field, as a homicide, they said.

The announcement came Saturday after relatives of Charles, 15, and local civil rights groups called for an independent investigation and raised questions about whether his race played a role in how law enforcement officials handled his case so far.

Quawan
Quawan

Charles’ body was found on Nov. 3 in a sugar cane field near the village of Loreauville, about 20 miles from his father’s home in Baldwin. His mother first reported him missing on Oct. 30.

A lawyer for the family said last week that it was unclear why officials hadn’t issued an Amber Alert after he disappeared or how he could have drowned — the likely cause of death listed in the autopsy report — when his body was found in shallow

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Quawan ‘Bobby’ Charles’ death being investigated as a homicide, Louisiana sheriff says

The sheriff’s office described the investigation as active and ongoing and noted that several witnesses had been interviewed.

“Although we believe it is important not to compromise any part of our investigation, we are prepared to release some details so that the public can be assured we are not resting in our effort to find the truth,” the office said.

Quawan’s mysterious disappearance and death left his family looking for answers and airing frustration at what they alleged was local law enforcement’s failure to act in the hours after the boy vanished.

After Quawan’s body was found in a sugar cane field near the tiny village of Loreauville about 25 miles north of his home, the sheriff’s office provided few details until Saturday, when it acknowledged the growing interest in the case.

Quawan’s disappearance and his body’s discovery spanned separate parishes: His parents reported him missing to the Baldwin Police

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Quawan ‘Bobby’ Charles’ suspicious death in Louisiana prompts calls for police transparency

Quawan’s parents say the sheriff’s office told them that their son had drowned and water was found in his lungs. A preliminary autopsy report by the Iberia Parish coroner listed the cause of death as “likely drowning” with muddy water in his airways and hyperinflated lungs. The preliminary report indicated he did not have injuries before his death and the condition of his face was likely caused by “aquatic animals” while he was in the water, it read.

Quawan’s cousin Celina Charles on Wednesday called the drowning explanation “bogus.”

“His face says different,” Charles said. In a photo the family has published online, the teen appears so disfigured that his teeth are visible outside of his mouth. The family has ordered an independent autopsy.

Quawan’s parents reported his disappearance from his father’s home in Baldwin, La., on Oct. 30, according to family attorney Ron Haley. The Baldwin Police Department took

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‘Suspicious’ circumstances around Black teen found dead in Louisiana

His body was found in a field days after he went missing.

As the rural Louisiana town of Baldwin mourns the death of Quawan “Bobby” Charles, the family of the teenage boy is demanding answers.

“We believe that if he had been of a different color that this will be taken a lot more seriously,” the family’s attorney, Ronald Haley, told ABC News. “We [would] not be talking today about 13 days have gone by, with no leads, 13 days have gone by with no answer, 13 days have gone by without [the] official cause of death… This family deserves that Bobby will be laid to rest.”

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Louisiana man sentenced to 25 years for setting fire to Black churches

(Reuters) – A young white man was sentenced on Monday to 25 years in prison by a federal court in Lafayette, Louisiana after he pleaded guilty to setting three historically Black churches on fire.

Federal District Judge Robert Summerhays sentenced Holden Matthews to 25 years but gave him 18 months credit for the time he has already spent in jail.

Matthews, who will serve 282 months, had admitted to burning down three predominantly African American churches and pleaded guilty to both state and federal charges in February.

The judge also ordered him to pay about $2.7 million in restitution to the churches he burned.

Matthews had burnt three churches – St. Mary Baptist Church, Greater Union Baptist Church and Mount Pleasant Baptist Church – over a 10-day span in 2019. The three churches, all in St. Landry Parish, burned down between March 26 and April 4.

Matthews was arrested and

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Louisiana church fires: Man who set fire sentenced to 25 years

Holden Matthews, 23, in February pleaded guilty to intentionally setting fire to the three African American Baptist churches over a 10-day period in March and April 2019, “because of the religious character of these buildings, in an effort to raise his profile as a ‘Black Metal’ musician,” the department said at the time.
Matthews was copying a Black Metal musician in Norway in the 1990s who set fire to churches, the department said.

Matthews must pay $590,246 to St. Mary Baptist Church, $970,213.30 to Greater Union and $1.1 million to Mt. Pleasant, a DOJ statement said Monday. He will have three years of supervised release.

CNN reached out to an attorney for Matthews.

The fires destroyed all three churches in Landry Parish.

“These churches trace their origins to the post-Civil War Reconstruction period and, for generations, were a place for predominantly African American Christians to gather, pray, worship, and celebrate

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Zeta’s toll on a Louisiana island: ‘Like a bomb was dropped’

GRAND ISLE, La. — Mark Andollina remembers stinging rain and a howling wind that peeled the roof off part of his Cajun Tide Beach Resort on Grand Isle, the Louisiana barrier island town where residents were among the first to feel the ferocity of Hurricane Zeta.

Andollina was salvaging what he could Friday morning, picking up pieces of reusable scrap wood, while mulling what it will take to repair and reopen. He said residents there believe Zeta spawned at least one tornado. “I guess that’s what did it,” he said. “Because we got the most damage on the island right here, basically in the middle of the island.”

“The middle of the island looks like a bomb was dropped,” said Dodie Vegas, who with her husband owns Bridge Side Marina on the west side of the island.

Part-time town resident Jimmy Ellis, a New Orleans area physician, said his raised

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Hurricane Zeta leaves devastation in Louisiana, hundreds without power

Jeff Amy and Kevin McGill, Associated Press
Published 8:38 a.m. ET Oct. 30, 2020

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A woman walks out of a house where the roof was torn away during Hurricane Zeta, as people begin the process of cleaning and rebuilding in Chauvin, La., Thursday, Oct. 29, 2020. (Photo: Chris Granger, AP)

NEW ORLEANS — Trees on top of buses and cars. Roofs ripped off homes. Boats pushed onto the highway by surging seawater. Hundreds of thousands of people left in the dark.

The remnants of Hurricane Zeta were far from land over the Atlantic on Friday, but people across the South were still digging out from the powerful storm that killed six people.

The wind effects of Zeta, which came ashore in Cocodrie, Louisiana, and barreled northeast, were felt all the way from the Gulf Coast to southern New Jersey. At the height of the outages, as many as 2.6

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Category 2 Hurricane Zeta crashes ashore in storm-weary Louisiana, dealing new blow in busy Atlantic hurricane season

General Manager of Pere Antoine Restaurant Gaige Rodriguez, left, and cook Michael Dillon board up windows as they prepare for the arrival of tropical storm Zeta which is expected to strengthen to a hurricane in New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S. October 27, 2020.

Kathleen Flynn | Reuters

Hurricane Zeta slammed into storm-weary Louisiana on Wednesday with New Orleans squarely in its path, threatening to push up to 9 feet of sea water inland and batter homes and businesses with fierce winds in a Gulf Coast region already pounded by multiple storms this year.

Some roads were flooded near the coast, where forecasters said Zeta was making landfall around Terrebone Bay near Cocodrie. Rain pelted the French Quarter in New Orleans, where workers closed one of the last floodgates as residents braced for Zeta, though a few people were still out on Bourbon Street with umbrellas. The iconic streetcars were idled and

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Displaced, distraught, Louisiana evacuees languish in hotels

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Languishing in a tiny hotel room, their three young children buzzed around them on two beds pushed together. A pile of donated toys sat on the floor near a baby stroller that doubles as a cart to fetch groceries. Cockroaches lurked on the inside of an open cabinet near a mini refrigerator.

“We’re not complaining about it. It’s a place to live,” said Skyla M. Thomas, 20. “But at the same time, it’s disgusting.”

She and her partner, Quaylon Pitre, thought they had stability 125 miles away on the outskirts of Lake Charles, La., where Pitre worked as a casino security guard. Thomas cared full-time for their children, including an infant who has been diagnosed with Down syndrome. They rented a three-bedroom house with a yard. Family members were nearby.

That was before Hurricane Laura screamed across the Louisiana shoreline on Aug. 27 with sustained

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