LSP Crime Lab proves crucial asset in solving recent shootings

Source: WAFB
Source: WAFB
Ryan Sharpe, 36 (Source: WAFB)
Ryan Sharpe, 36 (Source: WAFB)

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Long before Ryan Sharpe, 36, was hauled off to prison Wednesday night, fingered for allegedly killing three men and seriously hurting another in shootings spanning three months in East Baton Rouge and East Feliciana parishes, the Louisiana State Police Crime Lab was busy working to determine whether the shootings were connected then identifying the person believed to be responsible.

Crime Lab Manager Adam Becnel says they were called in to investigate all four scenes now linked to Sharpe. The shootings were not only similar in the choice of victim but in what forensic investigators were able to recover from each crime scene. The agency's report reveals bullets from at least one victim's home was an apparent match to those found at another.

"We really work closely with law enforcement to kind of help guide them," said Becnel.

While Becnel cannot speak to the cases specifically, he said finding similarities so precise takes a focused approach.

"We approach every shooting like we have potential multiple shooters and multiple events," he said. "We've got some good assets and tools."

The best tool in the LSP Crime Lab's arsenal is a database called the National Integrated Ballistics Information Network (NIBIN) which helps them accurately pinpoint any possible connections between crime scenes.

"They'll then look at the actual evidence under a microscope and make a determination whether they actually are or not and that gets relayed to the investigators," Becnel added.

Becnel told 9News their findings are checked, re-checked then independently verified before any LSP Crime Lab report is ever released. In cases like these, he said accuracy is crucial.

"No scientific technique is 100 percent absolute but when it's a public safety issue things seem to click," said Becnel.

There has been a lot of clicking lately in south Louisiana. In September, the LSP Crime Lab played a large role in putting away another suspected triggerman, Kenneth Gleason, 26, after police say he shot and killed two men just days apart in Baton Rouge. Forensic investigators handling that case were again able to link the separate crimes to the same gun.

At a news conference following Gleason's arrest, East Baton Rouge Sheriff Sid Gautreaux praised the dedicated work of those investigators with the LSP Crime Lab.

"The Crime Lab is just an invaluable tool and in my opinion is something the rest of the nation needs to look at," he said at the time.

The work done at the facility is not going unnoticed and Becnel calls it a community service he believes has forever changed the way crimes are solved in the state.

"There's a big impact to what we do here," he added. "It's been a game changer."

The LSP Crime Lab is accredited every four years. Becnel told 9News it was last reviewed in 2016.

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