The bloody scene that unfolded inside a home on Maplewood Drive on Saturday had to be terrifying for the toddler in the pink outfit and braids. But outside in the bright sunshine, there was only tenderness from sheriff’s detectives who took her safely in their arms.
Inside the house, a woman was stabbed multiple times by a man with a lengthy arrest record who had been released from prison only the night before on counts of domestic abuse and child endangerment. He was shot and killed by a sheriff’s deputy responding to a frantic 911 call from the victim.
The two-year-old was the daughter of another woman also staying in the house who managed to get her out before the deputy shot the attacker inside, according to Casey Rayborn Hicks, a spokeswoman for the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office.
A photograph taken at the scene shows homicide detective Cpl. Chris Masters walking along the road, cradling the little girl in his arms with another deputy walking alongside. They and other deputies consoled the girl and kept her preoccupied for more than an hour as the crime scene was processed. Diapers were brought to her in an unmarked car at one point and Sgt. Steve Williams left to go to a gas station to get her juice and snacks.
When it came time for her to leave, Deputy Jared Arceneaux left and came back with a brand new car seat, still in its box, newly purchased from a nearby store. With help from Masters, Maj. Anthony Ponton, and District Attorney Hillar C. Moore III, they assembled and installed it into one of their vehicles, safely stowed the toddler, and left. The child was later reunited with her mother.
Although the public doesn’t often get a chance to witness it, such acts of kindness by law enforcement officers aren’t uncommon, especially when children are involved, Hicks said. In fact, you can find instances posted on Facebook or Twitter by searching #DeputyDeeds, a hashtag coined by Hicks.
“A lot of times, deputies and homicide detectives will buy stuffed animals that they keep in the trunks of their units and bring to crime scenes to comfort children,” Hicks said.
Did law enforcement in Tangipahoa mishandle events in woman’s killing?
Though opponents in the courtroom, prosecutors and defense attorneys in the Tangipahoa murder trial of Ryan Pourciau were able to agree on one matter — both were critical of local law enforcement during their opening statements Wednesday.
Pourciau’s lawyer blamed authorities for throwing the book at his client instead of helping during run-ins with the victim’s family that preceded, and possibly led to, the murder.
But the sharpest barbs actually came from Assistant District Attorney Angel Monistere. In addition to claiming law enforcement moved too slowly to enforce a protective order filed by the victim’s family against Pourciau, she also listed specific failings the day of the murder.
Pourciau had dated the daughter of victim April Vander Linden. The day of the shooting, the girl noticed Pourciau’s jacket near the family’s property, and the Vander Lindens called 911, Monistere said.
A deputy went to the house and gave a “brief, cursory” search, but did not see Pourciau, who was hiding in the yard and later shot Vander Linden, the prosecutor said.
After the shooting, law enforcement searched for Pourciau with a helicopter, police dogs and SWAT officers. Ponchatoula High School was put on lockdown for two days.
But despite the massive resources, law enforcement failed to find Pourciau, who was eventually located in the Vander Linden home where officers had been collecting evidence.
He was only discovered because authorities allowed the victim’s family inside the house to collect some clothes, and Vander Linden’s daughter noticed Pourciau’s bullet proof vest still inside the house. He was found under a bed, still clutching the gun, Monistere said.
Advocate photographer Hilary Scheinuk and staff writer Steve Hardy contributed to this report.