CONVENT — St. James Parish sheriff's deputies have arrested one man and are looking for another in the Christmas Eve shootings in Lutcher that killed two Convent men and injured another.
Detectives believe the shootings at the Neighborhood Lounge on West Main Street occurred over a disagreement among young men from Lutcher and Convent, two east bank communities with longstanding grievances among some of its residents, the sheriff said.
Sheriff Willy Martin Jr. said deputies arrested Tyquan Twendell Williams, 24, Lutcher, and booked him Wednesday on a count of second-degree murder.
The Sheriff’s Office has also obtained an arrest warrant for Jermaine Lee Lewis Jr., 21, also of Lutcher. Anyone knowing the whereabouts of Lewis should contact law enforcement immediately and not approach him, the sheriff added.
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Sheriff’s deputies arrived 11:30 p.m. Dec. 24 to what Martin has described as a chaotic scene at the lounge, with bodies on the ground and the sound of gunshots still echoing down a side street.
Three people were shot that night in that dispute: Thaddeus Watis Jr., 20, and Dedrick Paul Green, Jr., 23, both of Convent, and Jerrell Moody, 25, of Vacherie.
Watis and Green died of their wounds; Moody was released from an area hospital several days after the shooting, Martin said.
Detectives initially reported a fourth person, a 15-year-old from Lutcher, was also shot and injured from the shootings, but Martin said detectives now think that shooting was unrelated, though close in time to the original round of gunshots.
Martin said detectives have not been able to determine exactly where that shooting occurred on West Labray Street, down the block from the lounge, but believe the shooting was the source of the gunshots authorities heard when they arrived the night of Dec. 24.
The Neighborhood Lounge was also the scene of a shooting on Christmas Day in 2008 when five people were injured.
A popular party area after the annual lighting of bonfires on the Mississippi River levees in St. James, the bar had hundreds of people hanging out inside and outside the night of Dec. 24.
But the arrest and warrant for the Lutcher men came more than two weeks after the shootings, as deputies had a tough time having witnesses voluntarily come forward, Martin said.
He said detectives had to seek them out and work from person to person until detectives believed they had enough to seek the warrants from a judge. Martin said detectives are still waiting on the forensic evidence to be processed.
“But at this point, these arrests are based on witnesses and statements that we have accumulated in the last two weeks,” he said.
Martin said it does appear the two men who were killed, Watis and Green, also were firing guns, as weapons were found next to their bodies. One the guns was a rifle.
It appears Moody was an innocent bystander who was hit by the gunfire while trying to flee like hundreds of others, Martin said.
While detectives have recovered several shell casings, Martin said, it is not clear how many shots were fired, though witnesses told detectives the number seems to have been extensive.
Watis’ mother, Lashana Jones, told The Advocate last month her son was home from holiday break at Arkansas Baptist, a college in Little Rock where he was playing football. The college defense back had previously played for Lutcher High School.
Individuals who have information regarding the shooting should contact either CrimeStoppers (877) 903-STOP, or the St. James Parish Sheriff’s Office at (225) 562-2200.