12 arrested in beating death of Tangipahoa inmate

TANGIPAHOA PARISH, LA (WAFB) - Eleven inmates at the Tangipahoa Parish Prison are facing murder charges after they allegedly beat a fellow inmate to death.

The Tangipahoa Sheriff's Office says Tommy Joe Smith, 40, was arrested on January 30 for a probation violation. Detectives say once Smith was booked, he was allegedly met with hostility by the other inmates in the dorm room he was placed in.

Investigators say Smith attempted to notify one of the guards of the problem when he was hit from behind by an inmate. Deputies say Smith was then swarmed by other inmates when he tried to defend himself.

Witnesses described the attack as a "shark feeding frenzy," meaning it was an extremely brutal and very quick attack. Guards and rescue crews were quickly notified of the attack, but Smith died from his injuries.

As a result, the following inmates were charged in the attack:

  • Herman Bagent, 20
  • Lionel Brister, 22
  • Brent Collins, 30
  • Tyquan Davis, 22
  • Ronald Faulkner, 38
  • Randall Holmes, 27
  • James Milton, 23
  • Eric Newman, 18
  • William Patterson, 22
  • Travis Robertson, 28
  • Antwon Seymore, 19

The 11 inmates are all charged with second degree murder. Faulkner and Robertson are also charged with second degree robbery after allegedly stealing Smith's shoes during the beating.

A juvenile offender was also booked on principal to second degree murder.

"News of this unprovoked and heinous attack is extremely troubling," said Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff Daniel Edwards. "We strive to provide safety to all those in Tangipahoa Parish, including those incarcerated within the Tangipahoa Parish Jail. Through an investigative account of this incident, it has been discovered all protocols relating to a response to such an event were preformed expeditiously. Unfortunately, due to the number of individuals involved in the altercation, along with the incident occurring within a secured environment, our victim was limited with an escape. This type of environment provides many limitations when taking into account the safety of staff, emergency medical responders, as well as the inmates themselves."

Copyright 2017 WAFB. All rights reserved.