Even after Jamie D. Croom was released from federal prison in April 2013, the New Roads man wasn’t really free.
Fresh off five years in a federal penitentiary for carrying a gun in a drug trafficking crime, Croom, 31, was supposed to stay clean for another five years — a form of probation called supervised release. He risked being sent back to federal prison if he ran into more trouble while he remained under federal supervision.
But he didn’t stay clean — and his story ended with the fatal shootings of two siblings in New Roads and the deputy U.S. marshal who was trying to arrest him, and his own death after law enforcement returned fire.
It wasn’t long after his release from federal prison in 2013 that Croom found trouble in the form of an arrest on allegations of attempted murder in March 2014, which kept him in the Pointe Coupee Parish Jail for about six months.
But the arrest and subsequent conviction on reduced charges — misdemeanor aggravated assault and remaining on premises — after the prosecution’s case fell apart never triggered a backlash in regard to Croom’s federal probation status, despite the requirement that he refrain from committing another federal, state or local crime during his release.
And it wasn’t long before Croom again became a wanted man. The Pointe Coupee Parish Sheriff’s Office said Croom gunned down a brother and sister in February outside a nightclub in New Roads. When a multiagency task force tracked him down earlier this week, Croom opened fire, authorities said, fatally wounding the deputy U.S. marshal before members of the task force fatally wounded Croom.
The fact that Croom was on probation at the time of the March 2014 shooting raised questions this week about whether the convicted felon should have been incarcerated in federal prison over the past few months, or at the very least closely monitored or punished in another manner, during a time period when he allegedly killed three people.
The Probation and Pretrial Services Office for Louisiana’s Middle District refused to answer questions regarding Croom’s supervision on Thursday. And the terms of Croom’s release described in court documents don’t make it clear whether the felony arrest and subsequent misdemeanor conviction should have resulted in a revocation of his supervised release.
Still, the terms explicitly banned Croom — a man who spent the majority of his adult life either on probation or in prison — from committing any crime or possessing any weapons.
Court documents also don’t indicate whether the probation office even knew about Croom’s arrest and subsequent conviction, or whether probation officers attempted to meet or did meet with him after his release from jail.
Documents filed Wednesday and Thursday in federal court indicate Croom’s probation may have been in the process of being revoked after he was accused of killing Sinica and Lechelle Williams in New Roads on Feb. 18.
Michael B. Soniat, a senior U.S. probation officer, asked a federal magistrate judge on Wednesday to recall a warrant issued for Croom’s arrest on Feb. 19. Attempts to review a copy of the warrant were unsuccessful. On Thursday, the judge granted Soniat’s request, saying “the petition and warrant for (the) offender under supervision” should be recalled because of Croom’s death earlier this week.
By the time the Probation Office issued the warrant on Feb. 19 for his arrest, the hunt for Croom was well underway.
That hunt ended Tuesday morning with the exchange of gunfire outside the Elm Grove Motel in Scotlandville, where both Croom and deputy U.S. Marshal Josie Wells were fatally wounded by gunfire.
Wells, 27, of Mississippi, died Tuesday morning shortly after being shot in the neck by Croom, authorities said. The FBI charged Croom with murdering Wells within hours.
But Croom died early Wednesday morning at a local hospital. The preliminary results from Thursday’s autopsy of Croom indicated he bled to death as a result of multiple gunshot wounds, said Dr. Beau Clark, the East Baton Rouge Parish coroner.
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