GONZALES — The man blasted in the gut with a shotgun by an off-duty State Police investigator Sunday after allegedly burglarizing the officer’s police car at his Ascension Parish home was on supervised parole for the burglaries of two law enforcement vehicles in Livingston Parish and the theft of those officers’ weapons three years earlier, according to police.
Two Glock semi-automatic pistols, a fully automatic AR-15 rifle, a Taser, a gunlight and other law enforcement equipment were taken from the vehicles of a Baton Rouge police officer and a Livingston Parish sheriff’s narcotics detective during a string of car burglaries in Walker between Jan. 1-2, 2013, Walker police and State Police reports say.
According to those reports, while some law enforcement equipment was recovered from the 2013 burglaries, the guns were not found. But Lori Steele, spokeswoman for the Livingston Parish sheriff, said all of the sheriff’s detective’s equipment was recovered except for one weapon, which she did not specify.
The State Police report says the AR-15, which was taken, along with a Glock pistol, from the Livingston agent’s unmarked truck parked at his home, was reportedly dumped into the Mississippi River from the Luling bridge.
Joseph P. Baldwin, 29, of Gonzales, who remains in stable condition at a hospital after being shot at close range Sunday, had pleaded no contest to two counts of simple burglary of a law enforcement vehicle in Livingston Parish and was sentenced in May 2013 to five years in state prison.
Baldwin had lived across the street from the Livingston narcotics agent and near the Baton Rouge police officer’s home. DNA tied Baldwin to a personal vehicle owned by the Baton Rouge police officer. It also had been burglarized, along with the officer’s marked police car and another personal car, at the officer’s home, the State Police report says.
Six months after Baldwin’s conviction in Livingston, Baldwin pleaded guilty in Ascension Parish in November 2013 to possessing an illegally altered 12-gauge shotgun. The barrel was sawed off. He received a two-year sentence that ran concurrent with the Livingston conviction, a plea agreement says.
Baldwin was released for good-time parole supervision in October 2014 after 18 months in prison, said Pam Laborde, spokeswoman for the state Department of Public Safety and Corrections.
In the latest case, Baldwin had burglarized cars at six other homes in the same Ascension Parish area that Sunday morning before breaking into the investigator’s unmarked sport utility vehicle, said Lt. Col. Bobby Webre, sheriff’s chief of criminal operations.
The off-duty investigator, who had seen Baldwin pulling things from the shattered hatchback of his SUV after being alerted by a neighbor about 4:30 a.m., armed himself with a shotgun and gave chase, Webre said. The investigator caught up with Baldwin, who was carrying the stolen items, and began to fight with him.
“The burglar broke away and produced a handgun from his pants pocket,” Webre said.
The investigator fired a round from the shotgun, striking Baldwin in the abdomen, Webre said.
“We were probably there within minutes” of the shooting, Webre said.
The neighbor had called 911 while the investigator went outside to confront the burglar. The SUV was parked under a carport at the investigator’s home in north Ascension.
Baldwin was taken by ambulance to a hospital, where he’s being guarded “24/7,” Webre said.
At this point, Webre said, it appears the investigator will not be charged.
“There’s nothing that points to anything other than a victim taking appropriate action,” Webre said.
Maj. Doug Cain, a State Police spokesman, said the investigator has been placed on paid administrative leave while the Sheriff’s Office investigates the shooting.
After Baldwin, his uncle — who reportedly dumped the AR-15 — and several others were arrested in January 2013 in the burglaries, Livingston Parish sheriff’s deputies acknowledged firearms were stolen from the police and sheriff’s vehicles, along with other “items specific to law enforcement.” Deputies would not describe the guns or other items then.
In the latest case, the Ascension Sheriff’s Office has refused to describe what Baldwin allegedly took from the officer’s vehicle, and the Sheriff’s Office and State Police have refused to provide the name of the State Police investigator or where he lives.
“He was off-duty, and it happened at his home,” Cain said in explaining the decision not to identify the investigator.
WBRZ-TV, citing unnamed and unspecified “detectives,” reported the burglaries happened near the Autumn Woods subdivision in Prairieville.
Ascension deputies refused to confirm this report.
But, Webre said, Ascension sheriff’s deputies determined the handgun recovered at the scene of the burglaries this weekend had been stolen from one of the six cars burglarized in the same area of Ascension late Saturday night or early Sunday morning.
“It was not the trooper’s weapon. It was one he (Baldwin) stole earlier that evening from another vehicle,” Webre said.
Webre did say the items stolen from the investigator’s State Police SUV were the type of items “a law enforcement officer normally carries in the car.” All were recovered about 100 yards from the investigator’s house, Webre added.
Webre said he expects the Sheriff’s Office investigation to be completed in two to three weeks.
“It looks like we’ll be able to link Joseph Baldwin to all the other burglaries,” Webre said.
Once Baldwin is released from the hospital, Webre said, he is expected to be booked into Ascension Parish Prison on attempted first-degree murder of a peace officer and other six counts: aggravated burglary, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, resisting an officer by violence, criminal trespass, criminal damage to property and illegal carrying of weapons.
Advocate reporter Heidi Kinchen contributed to this story.