Would-be bank robber pleads guilty in bomb threat that shut Lafayette campus _lowres

Devin Haywood

Despite his assurances to a federal judge that he could still contribute to society, Devin Haywood was sentenced Monday to 10 years in prison for calling in the July 2014 bomb threat that shut down the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, a threat that drew police away from Haywood’s real target: a north Lafayette bank he tried but failed to rob.

“I do have a lot of potential,” Haywood, 31, told U.S. District Judge Richard Haik. Haywood told Haik, “I was messed up in the head,” when he called a Lafayette news station claiming he’d planted a bomb in Girard Park on July 16, 2014. Haywood said his sister had committed suicide and that he couldn’t get a job after graduating from a Sunset truck-driving academy.

Haik wasn’t swayed.

“I think you’re a dangerous man, Mr. Haywood,” Haik said.

Haywood pleaded guilty to two felonies — conveying false information and attempted bank robbery — in March. Haik sentenced Haywood to 10 years on each count, but ordered the sentences to be served concurrently.

The bomb threat emptied UL-Lafayette’s main campus of teachers, college students and high school students who took part in college programs. More than 200 officers — local, state and federal — responded, some of them with bomb-sniffing dogs that combed the main campus and other UL-Lafayette properties like Cajun Field.

But the threat was a ruse for Haywood’s real target — a MidSouth Bank branch on Moss Street. A bank security camera captured video of Haywood about 5:40 a.m. as he lay in wait — hiding behind an air conditioning unit — for bank employees to arrive.

The video showed that about 7:20 a.m., the two employees drove up. A few seconds later, the video shows the car pulling out of the parking lot and speeding away as Haywood chased them.

Police later linked a cellphone, which Haywood discarded after his failed bank robbery, to the phoned-in bomb threat. Haywood was arrested July 22, 2014.

Lafayette Police Chief Jim Craft at the time termed the attempted heist “an early bird robbery.” He said thieves often target businesses as managers open up in the morning.

Haywood told Haik Monday that at the time he was depressed for a few reasons: his sister had committed suicide and he trained to become a truck driver but couldn’t get a job.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Luke Walker, who prosecuted the case, said he found Haywood’s woe-is-me defense hard to take.

“Everything that man said is offensive,” Walker said. “He chases two terrified women with a gun in his hand. What it did was devastating to the city of Lafayette; it was devastating to the two women.”

Haywood was on parole when he committed the crimes in Lafayette. He was released in May 2013 after serving eight years of a 10-year sentence for a 2005 Jefferson Parish bank robbery.

Media reports said Haywood and another man stole $92,000 after forcing their way in before the bank opened and that Haywood shot a bank employee, who survived.