Police on Friday announced breakthroughs in the slayings of Dwayne Batiste Jr. and Damien Champ, whose deaths had been among six unsolved killings in the past year in north Lafayette.
Less than a month after he announced a task force created to focus exclusively on the unsolved killings, interim Lafayette Police Chief Reggie Thomas announced an arrest in one of the cases and an arrest warrant issued in the other.
“It does take an entire task force, I believe — that’s my approach — to solve these types of cases,” Thomas said.
Witness information helped secure the arrest of Traven Solomon, 22, of the 400 block of Guidry Street in Lafayette, who was booked Thursday on a count of second-degree murder in the shooting death of Champ.
Champ, 21, died the night of June 30 in the 300 block of Bossier Street.
A second-degree murder warrant also has been issued for 33-year-old Cody Brown, of Lafayette, in the Nov. 21, 2014, killing of 22-year-old Batiste in the 800 block of West Gilman Road. Brown is incarcerated on unrelated charges at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola.
Two other people also are suspected of involvement in the Batiste killing, which happened during a string of shootings that day that left two other people hospitalized.
Police on Feb. 18 arrested Dwayne Carmouche Jr., 26, of Breaux Bridge, on a count of accessory after the fact in Batiste’s killing, while police are attempting to locate another suspect, whose name has not been released, on the same count.
Lafayette City-Parish Councilman Kenneth Boudreaux, who represents the area where most of the unsolved killings occurred, commended the Lafayette Police Department for making the cases a priority and issued a message to the killers who remain at large.
“It’s not when. It’s not where. It’s not how. It’s just a simple fact: You will be found. Or you could do the right thing and take responsibility for your action and allow those additional families to have the same type of peace and closure that the two families that was named here today now have,” Boudreaux said.
Four killings from last year remain unsolved , although police say they are pursuing serious leads in most of them.
Drayfus Bob, 19, has been considered a person of interest since the Dec. 10 killing of Rosando Gonzales, 57, who was shot and killed while walking with a friend along the 600 block of Surrey Street. The friend told police he ran away when a dark-colored vehicle drove up and several men armed with handguns got out the vehicle, and Gonzales was shot minutes later.
Investigators are awaiting forensic evidence before positively identifying a suspect, Police Department spokesman Cpl. Paul Mouton said.
Investigators have subpoenaed undisclosed types of evidence in the July 17 killing of Amon Bob, 30, who was found dead about 1 a.m. in the 100 block of Clifford Street.
Police responding to the scene found multiple shell casings and tracked down several vehicles in the area at the time of the shooting, Mouton said.
He also said detectives have strong leads in the May 24 shooting death of Scottie Alfred, 51, who died while sleeping in his car in a relative’s front yard in the 300 block of East Foch Street.
A family member found him dead from a gunshot wound about 6 a.m. Alfred worked at a nearby lounge and often would sleep in his car in the front yard, wake up in the morning and leave.
In the unsolved case of Aaron Brooks, 32, investigators believe he knew his killer, Mouton said, as no forced entry was evident inside his Northeast Evangeline Thruway apartment when he was shot multiple times in the early morning hours of May 8.
His killing was reported about 3:49 a.m. Investigators suspect robbery to be the motive behind his killing, as some items were missing from Brooks’ rented apartment, where he had been living along the heavily trafficked roadway for about four months.
Mouton said police checked area businesses and homes for surveillance footage after each of the killings and conducted countless interviews. Police have no evidence to believe any of the shootings are related.
Thomas said he feels sure the task force, to which one sergeant and three investigators are assigned, will solve the cases.
“We will be giving 100 percent to solve these cases, and I’m very confident in my task force and the evidence that we’re gathering that we will be solving these cases,” Thomas said.
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