Six teens housed at the Bridge City Center for Youth have been implicated in an incident last week that allowed two others to escape from the state detention facility. The juveniles who fled from the lockup Aug. 7 also are facing new counts after being captured last weekend, authorities said Friday.
Arrest reports logged earlier this week at the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office painted a fuller picture of the 1:25 a.m. escape, which one law enforcement official said may have been a coordinated effort motivated by homesickness on the part of Rashad Seals, a 16-year-old from Iberville Parish who was one of the two teens who apparently slipped through a hole in an exterior fence.
The incident raised new questions about staffing levels at Bridge City, a facility with a history of assaults on staff members.
The arrest reports revealed that a guard named Lester Hamlin was overpowered Aug. 7 inside the facility’s Harmony dormitory by five teens; the struggle was caught on video. During the incident, Seals managed to swipe the guard’s keys and open the back door.
The maneuver seemed strikingly similar to an incident two days earlier in another dorm in which 18-year-old Wilnor Chaney Jr. was accused of throwing a guard to the ground and using his keys to let himself out of that dorm.
After Hamlin was overpowered in the Aug. 7 escape, arrest reports say, “other offenders took the portable radio and dormitory telephone,” preventing the guard from calling for help.
“Hamlin began to wave his hands frantically at the dormitory camera for assistance because he had no means of contacting the control desk for help,” the reports say.
At 1:29 a.m., another officer noticed Hamlin in distress and requested backup. Responding officers chased eight teens around the grounds of the facility, recapturing six of them.
In addition to Seals, 15-year-old Riynell Nixon, of New Orleans, escaped. His family turned him in the following day, while Seals was captured Sunday in Baton Rouge. Both teens face additional counts in connection with the escape.
Also rebooked in the escape were Armani Mouton, Sanders Johnson, Martez Doucet and Juan Tapia, all 17, along with 19-year-old Eric Curry.
Additionally, a 16-year-old, whose name was not released, was booked with simple escape and battery of a correctional officer, said Beth Touchet-Morgan, deputy assistant secretary of the Louisiana Office of Juvenile Justice.
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