A suspect in a Lafayette murder died Wednesday from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head after a shootout in Baton Rouge with a U.S. Marshals Task Force, authorities said Thursday.
U.S. Marshal Kevin Harrison said Lawrence Lynel Blackburn, 37, of Morgan City, died and a woman was wounded when a U.S. Marshals Task Force attempted to arrest Blackburn, who was wanted on a first-degree murder warrant in the Monday shooting death of 18-year-old Dravin Stevenson in Lafayette.
Harrison said the task force went to Blackburn’s sister’s apartment, 4271 W. Brookstown Drive, about 7:30 p.m. after receiving a tip that the fugitive was at the complex.
The task force followed the tip to the second-floor apartment where Blackburn was thought to be and asked the occupants to come outside, said Cpl. L’Jean McKneely, a Baton Rouge police spokesman.
“They complied with the officer’s request, and as they were walking out, (Blackburn) was the last individual” to come out, McKneely said.
Blackburn was armed with a handgun, Harrison said.
“When he came out, he started shooting,” McKneely said, adding that it is believed Blackburn fired multiple shots.
“Officers returned fire, and he then fell back into the apartment,” McKneely said.
A woman, who has not been identified, was shot in the leg when she was caught in the crossfire, McKneely said.
“We think she was directly in front of Blackburn when the shooting occurred,” McKneely said.
The woman was taken to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, McKneely said.
It’s still unclear who shot her, Harrison said.
McKneely said once Blackburn fell back into the apartment, the task force backed off and called for assistance.
More than one bullet was recovered from Blackburn’s body during an autopsy Thursday afternoon, East Baton Rouge Parish Coroner Dr. William “Beau” Clark said. No projectiles were found inside Blackburn’s head, he said.
The other bullets could have been fired before or after Blackburn shot himself, he said.
The investigation into the incident is continuing. In the meantime, McKneely said the Baton Rouge policeman on the task force was placed on paid administrative leave, which is standard procedure.
“I imagine everyone on the task force is put on paid administrative leave pending the investigation,” McKneely said.
The Baton Rouge Police Department is handling the investigation since it occurred within the city limits, he said.
The U.S. Marshals Task Force is made up of officers from the U.S. Marshals office, Baton Rouge Police Department, the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office, the West Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office, the Louisiana State Police and Louisiana State Probation and Parole, Harrison said.
In March, U.S. Marshals Deputy Josie Wells was shot and killed when he tried to apprehend Jamie D. Croom, a New Roads man wanted in the murder of two siblings. Croom also died from his wounds in that shootout.
“This is on the heels of us having engaged another person who was responsible for a double homicide in March, and it was an eerily similar scenario, and obviously we were in a position to not have any of our officers harmed this time,” Harrison said. “It’s a shame that this individual did not put himself in a position to surrender.”
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