One security guard died and another was injured in a shooting early Saturday outside a bar on North Acadian Thruway after the two men had stepped in to break up a fight, said Baton Rouge Police spokesman Sgt. L'Jean McKneely Jr.
Deswin Harden, 37, was killed around 1:10 a.m. Saturday outside Peyton's Lounge at 1533 N. Acadian Thruway, and the other guard, a 48-year-old man, was wounded by gunfire, but suffered non-life threatening injuries, McKneely said.
McKneely said both men were security guards at Peyton's Lounge, an unassuming brick building with music flowing out its front door at the corner of North Acadian Thruway and Bogan Walk.
"He was trying to protect someone else," Harden's mother, Susan Blanchard, said Sunday afternoon, tears in her eyes. "He died a hero."
Blanchard said she spoke to the injured security guard and the woman who her son had been trying to escort safely out of the bar following the fight. But before anyone made it home, gunfire broke out, hitting Harden and the other security guard, but not the woman.
Harden died at the scene.
Police arrested Joseph Louis Butler, 45, in the fatal shooting; however, McKneely said they expect to make more arrests in the incident. Blanchard said she hopes they have the right man, because she doesn't want another family to suffer.
Blanchard said her son had recently gotten his life on the right path, after years in and out of jail serving time for drug charges and once for domestic violence, according to East Baton Rouge court records. He had not been arrested in three years, and wanted others to learn from mistakes.
"He wanted to make a difference, he wanted to encourage people not to make the mistakes he had made coming up and to do better," Blanchard said. The security guard job had been one of those ways he wanted to give back. His younger brother was shot seven times at a Baton Rouge club in 2010, severely injuring him. Blanchard said Harden had helped care for his brother, who is now a quadriplegic, but this job was a way for Harden to keep others safe.
“His whole purpose there was to make sure things stayed on the up-and-up when people entered, and they could feel safe knowing there was security present," Blanchard said.
She said Harden, whom many knew as "Big Dee," had recently learned he would become a father for the first time. Though he had treated his ex-wife's daughter as his own, his biological son was due in September with his girlfriend.
"He had found out in February that he was going to be a first-time father, and now he’s not even going to be able to see his baby boy,” Blanchard said, her tears catching her words. "He had so many friends. Oh my God, the outpour (of support)."
Blanchard said she has five sons, and is so saddened that two have now been hit by gunfire, one fatally.
“I always didn’t want my child to be a statistic, and now I have two who have been labeled as statistics for black-on-black crime and gun violence," Blanchard said. "All I can do is what I’ve been doing: pray. … God has a purpose for everything.”
And her message for those who are a part of the culture around gun violence: "Value another person's life."
Butler, of 650 N. Ardenwood Drive, was booked into Parish Prison on counts of first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder.