Authorities were searching Friday for two teenagers, including a 15-year-old from New Orleans, who escaped from the Bridge City Center for Youth.
State officials declined to say how the pair escaped and provided almost no details about their investigation.
But a person familiar with the situation told The New Orleans Advocate that the escape happened about 1:20 a.m.
Jefferson Parish sheriff’s deputies went to the lockup about 5 a.m. and learned that a hole had been discovered in an exterior fence, said Col. John Fortunato, a Sheriff’s Office spokesman.
A disturbance had occurred in the dorm area, Fortunato said, and “after calm was restored,” two juveniles turned up missing.
He said the authorities believed the teens escaped through the opening in the fence.
One of them, 16-year-old Rashad Seals, of Plaquemine, had been incarcerated on six counts of residential burglary, Fortunato said. Maj. Ronnie Hebert, of the Iberville Parish Sheriff’s Office, said Seals was born and raised in Iberville Parish.
“We’re going to be looking for him,” Hebert said, “because my suspicion is he’s going to try to make his way back here to his people.”
Seals most recently had been housed at Bridge City after having his probation revoked, Hebert said.
A law enforcement source who spoke on condition of anonymity said Seals has been in and out of the state juvenile system since 2012 on an array of charges, ranging from drug possession to armed robbery, and that he has been housed at various other juvenile detention centers around the state.
The 15-year-old from New Orleans, Riynell Nixon, most recently had been jailed on three counts of armed robbery and one count each of simple robbery and aggravated assault.
The law enforcement source said Nixon has been in the juvenile justice system since 2013 and has a lengthy criminal history that includes convictions — referred to in Juvenile Court as “adjudications” — for armed robbery, aggravated assault and carrying a firearm on a school campus.
Last month, Nixon was cited for being “out of area” at Bridge City, the source said. Detention center staff locked down his dorm because Nixon had managed to slip away from the area and was running around the facility.
State officials did not respond to repeated requests Friday for further details on how the teens escaped, and they also provided few details on their efforts to take them into custody.
Beth Touchet-Morgan, deputy assistant secretary for the Louisiana Office of Juvenile Justice, said in a brief statement that a command center had been established at the Jefferson Parish lockup that “will gather, track and distribute information on the youths to assist in their apprehension.”
“Following policy, OJJ ceased all movement at the facility and began making official notifications,” Touchet-Morgan said in a statement. “An investigation into the circumstances that led to the escape began immediately to aid in apprehending the youths.”
Escapes at Bridge City are not common but far from unprecedented.
Two youths absconded from the facility in 2012, and three teenagers scaled a barbed-wire fence in a brazen escape in late 2011.
The teens in the 2011 case were arrested in Livingston Parish after stealing a car.
Anyone with information about Friday’s escape is asked to call (504) 437-3033.
Follow Jim Mustian on Twitter, @JimMustian.