An Orleans Parish sheriff’s deputy was arrested Tuesday and booked on aggravated assault with a firearm and simple battery after an alleged crime spree that included a shooting in Central City and an altercation at a Waffle House in Gentilly.
Paul Sylvester, 30, a five-year veteran of the Sheriff’s Office, was fired after an administrative review of the incidents, Sheriff’s Office spokesman Philip Stelly said.
Police said Sylvester’s bizarre actions began about 10:30 p.m. Monday near Camp and Calliope streets. Driving a Sheriff’s Office van, he allegedly pulled over a vehicle full of people and began screaming at them. He then started shooting at the victims, police said. They were able to escape.
Sylvester continued on to the Waffle House at 4601 Old Gentilly Road, where employee Sandra Price said he seemed to single out a young man, 21, who was sitting at a table alone.
Sylvester ordered the man to hand over his driver’s license, Price said, then claimed that the black Chevrolet Corvette the young man had driven to the restaurant was stolen.
When the young man said the car was his mother’s, Price said, Sylvester grew increasingly agitated. The two went outside, where Sylvester wrestled the young man to the ground, she said.
After the two were separated, she said, Sylvester cursed out the young man and said he should have shot him.
Sylvester left only after he realized that the confrontation had been caught on video, Price said. She said the young man apparently suffered no major injuries, but his shirt was torn.
A bystander caught the Waffle House incident on video and shared it with The New Orleans Advocate’s partners at WWL-TV.
Police said Sylvester then continued to his home in New Orleans East. He left the home with his father about 3 a.m. Officers stopped them and took Sylvester into custody. Police said he displayed “bizarre” behavior and was taken to the hospital for a mental health evaluation before being booked.
Sylvester was booked in 2011 on two counts of aggravated assault in a case that Orleans Parish District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro’s office dropped.