A member of a prominent Lafayette family believed to be suffering from a mental illness shot up a vehicle last week belonging to a doctor who is dating his ex-wife, was apprehended on Monday as he tried to board a plane at the Baton Rouge airport, according to officials and court documents.
Braxton I. Moody IV, 66, was held in Baton Rouge until he was booked into the Lafayette Parish Correctional Center on Wednesday morning on one count of aggravated criminal damage to property. He is scheduled for a hearing before a judge Thursday morning.
Lafayette city police began looking for Moody after he reportedly shot up a Cadillac Escalade belonging to Dr. J. Lee Leonard, an orthopedist who has dated Moody’s ex-wife for a few years. The alleged shooting occurred after 11 p.m. on July 22.
Moody is a member of a Lafayette family that owns more than 20 small-town Louisiana newspapers, a host of restaurants and other businesses. Messages left with Louisiana State Newspapers seeking comment from the Moody family were not returned Wednesday afternoon. It was unclear Wednesday who is providing Braxton Moody with legal counsel.
“Our main concern is that he gets mental health treatment,” said prosecutor Danny Landry, who is first assistant to 15th Judicial District Attorney Keith Stutes. “We want him to be held until he is properly evaluated.”
Landry said the District Attorney’s Office has not seen Lafayette detectives’ investigative report.
Leonard two years ago sought a protective court order against Moody.
In the incident last week, which occurred after Leonard and the woman had returned home from a restaurant, Moody honked the horn of his gold Land Rover to get their attention.
He then fired a weapon several times into Leonard’s unoccupied Cadillac, according to a police report.
The report says that after Moody fired the shots and drove away, he called the Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office. Moody told the watch commander that he was “being targeted by the Banditos Motorcycle Club” and that he was headed to Houston “to check himself into a mental facility,” the report states.
Despite his statement to the sheriff’s watch commander, Moody didn’t drive to Houston. Less than an hour after shooting at Leonard’s vehicle, Moody’s cellphone indicated he was in East Baton Rouge Parish.
On Monday, acting on a tip, Baton Rouge authorities at the Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport arrested Moody before he boarded a plane, said attorney Thomas Guilbeau, who represents Leonard. Guilbeau said he didn’t know where Moody planned to fly.
Guilbeau also said police seized a 9mm handgun and a 20-gauge shotgun loaded with buckshot found in Moody’s Land Rover, which was in the airport parking lot.
Guilbeau said Moody is a danger to the public.
“Dr. Leonard is adamant — he wants Braxton Moody in jail,” Guilbeau said. “We don’t want him out on bond. He’s dangerous.”
Stutes, the district attorney, said the Moody case will get the attention it deserves.
“The facts indicate there is some concern for the welfare of citizens in the community,” Stutes said.
Moody has spent time in mental health facilities, according to court records, including a stay in January 2013 at Oceans Behavioral Hospital in Broussard.
While Moody was undergoing treatment in Broussard, Leonard sought a court order banning Moody from coming near him, his home and his office.
Leonard sought the court’s protection after Oceans Behavioral officials warned him that Moody had made threats against him while undergoing treatment.