It all started with reports of a child being kidnapped on Bluebonnet Boulevard, the first in a series of attacks that Kendrick Myles allegedly carried out against his relatives and associates over the next several hours — including killing a toddler when he shot up a house.
Myles, 41, was arrested early Friday following a standoff with police, his rampage finally coming to an end.
But rampant gun violence continued to plague Baton Rouge over the next several hours, with two more homicides Friday morning adding to an already soaring murder rate. Both those incidents were separate and unrelated to the Myles case.
Baton Rouge Police Chief Murphy Paul held a press conference Friday morning to address the public, saying the continuing cycles of violence must stop. He said domestic situations like this are especially sad because there's a good chance someone in the perpetrator's family had a fear or suspicion he would commit the deadly act. Those people need to "pick up the phone and call law enforcement" to prevent a tragic outcome, Paul said.
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Police released the following details about their efforts to thwart Myles, which included trailing him from one crime scene to the next during the overnight hours.
First the East Baton Rouge Sheriff's Office responded to reports that a child had been abducted from a home on Bluebonnet Boulevard. Myles kidnapped his 9-year-old nephew and brought the child along for the spate of crimes, police spokesman Sgt. L'Jean McKneely Jr. said.
Their first stop was a house on Osceola Street several miles away, where Myles allegedly kicked in the door and started fighting with the people inside, then shot someone in the hand. Paul said the victim in that case identified Myles as the shooter and described him as a family member.
That's when police realized Myles was also a suspect in the Bluebonnet kidnapping.
Myles left the scene on Osceola Street around 8:20 p.m., still with the kidnapped child in tow, and traveled to the 6000 block of West Upland Avenue, which is in Baton Rouge's Zion City neighborhood, police said. There he is accused of shooting up a house, fatally wounding 2-year-old Azariah Thomas, who later died at a hospital.
McKneely said there's no reason to believe the child was Myles' intended target, since it appears he was shooting indiscriminately into the building. Police didn't specify why Myles targeted that house, saying only that he had some issues with the people who lived there. That was around 9:30 p.m.
When reached at their home the following afternoon, the victim's family declined to comment on what happened, saying they need more time before making any sort of public statement.
Myles then proceeded to 1431 Snipe Street, which is in the Scotlandville area. He fired multiple rounds during a shootout with another relative who came to that location to rescue the kidnapped nephew, McKneely said. Police responded to reports of shots fired on Snipe Street around 9:50 p.m.
No one was injured in the gunfire, and the nephew remained with Myles in the house on Snipe Street until he was finally taken into custody after a standoff that lasted several hours, until about 2:45 a.m. Neither Myles nor responding officers fired their weapons during the standoff, which ended when Myles was apprehended as he tried to run from the house, officials said.
That's when police were able to rescue the kidnapped child, who was uninjured, and return him to his family.
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At the press conference Friday morning, Paul summarized what happened and announced that the 2-year-old gunshot victim had died, calling the child "a beautiful soul." He said his heart goes out to the families who were terrorized during the rampage and said it's difficult to find comforting words in the face of such trauma.
"We talk about domestic violence," said Maj. Todd Morris, with the sheriff's office. "Here's another prime example of a domestic violence issue that has turned from a kidnapping to a shooting to the unfortunate death of a 2-year-old."
Officials also noted that domestic violence and intimate partner homicides are surging this year — well above what's considered normal for Baton Rouge. Experts predicted such an increase months ago, reasoning that the coronavirus pandemic would exacerbate abusive situations amid heightened stress and close quarters, especially when victims are trapped at home with their abusers and disconnected from services and support networks.
Paul praised the efforts of his homicide detectives, who had been up all night working the Myles shootings when reports of an unrelated fatal shooting came in Friday morning. That shooting occurred at an apartment complex on North Ardenwood Drive.
Something that frustrates BRPD officers is dealing with the same suspects over and over again, people committing shootings and murders who cycle through the criminal justice system with no real resolution, Paul said.
"We are tired of seeing the same individuals," he said. "This is what I hear from my officers. We have to do better than that."
Paul emphasized the importance of intervention, opportunities to prevent violence before it occurs. He said people need to contact law enforcement when they suspect a friend or relative is capable of committing such acts.
Without that cooperation from the public, Paul said, the anti-violence initiatives already underway and the smart policing technology being implemented can't solve the underlying problems.
"With all of those efforts, still we're here today talking about shooting incidents," he said. "It's the same story."
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Myles has a long criminal record that includes 29 arrests and 11 convictions, some of them violent, according to the East Baton Rouge District Attorney's Office. He was on parole at the time of his arrest Friday.
Police said he also had an outstanding arrest warrant, which was issued in July because Myles was suspected of intentionally setting a house on fire, also on Osceola Street near where the shooting occurred Thursday. The house was vacant, and the warrant doesn't say why Myles might have set it on fire. But a witness reported seeing him pour liquid on the living room floor and lighting it with a match.
Before that, his most recent arrest was for drug and weapons counts in 2017. Louisiana Probation and Parole officers contacted police saying they were unable to locate Myles after reports he had threatened relatives with a gun, according to that arrest warrant. Police located him inside an abandoned house and accused him of possessing drugs and a gun.
He told officers he was "selling cocaine to make ends meet for his family," according to the warrant. Court records show the charges were later dropped for lack of evidence.
It appears that arrest stemmed from an incident documented in an application for a restraining order filed around the same time, in which his brother-in-law wrote that Myles showed up to his church "in a rage of terror" and threatened to shoot him in the head whenever he came outside. The application referenced the recent death of Myles' mother, who was the founder and pastor of that church, and said he was "on drugs very very bad."
His past convictions include when he pleaded guilty to attempted second-degree murder in 2005. Details about the circumstances of that and other old cases weren't available in online court records.
Myles was booked into jail Friday morning on the following counts: first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, attempted second-degree murder, illegal use of a weapon, felon in possession of a firearm and home invasion.