19-year-old escapee identified after three days on the run
NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Three days after a 19-year-old severely injured a female guard and escaped the Bridge City Center for Youth, an anonymous law enforcement source provided FOX 8 with the man’s identity.
For days, officials were silent.
“If you don’t release that information, people don’t know about it. They can’t protect themselves,” Joel Friedman, a Tulane law professor, said.
The lack of information left people who live near the center unnerved.
“We’re afraid,” one neighbor told FOX 8. “My daughter and my grandkids are afraid to come around here.”
The anonymous source identified the 19-year-old as Jonathan Sheard Jr. of New Orleans.
Information provided by the source says Sheard was serving time for simple burglary, aggravated flight from an officer, illegal carrying of a weapon, theft of a motor vehicle, and simple escape.
Sheard is still on the loose after he convinced three other juveniles to help him beat up a guard and jump the fence at the troubled facility, which has been riddled with escapes and assaults over the last several months. Sheard’s escape comes less than a month after five incarcerated youth escaped the Bridge City facility on March 17, an incident the detention center attributed in part to “human error.”
Three other youth detainees escaped the Bridge City facility last November.
“These are violent criminals,” Jefferson Parish Councilman Deano Bonano said.
Bonano calls the delay in releasing the information absurd.
“When he escaped that facility, the people need to know what he looks like... what clothes he was wearing, so they know what to be on the lookout for,” Bonano said.
The Office of Juvenile Justice (OJJ) said the agency cannot release the names of incarcerated juveniles at the facility.
“State law is pretty specific,” Deputy Secretary of OJJ Bill Sommers says. “We can release pictures to law enforcement. I cannot release to media. Law enforcement can release to media.”
The OJJ says it released the identity of the escaped man to the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office and Louisiana State Police. According to Louisiana law, whenever a child escapes from a juvenile detention center, law enforcement agencies are authorized to release to the public their name, age, physical description, and a picture.
“It does not mean you are obligated to reveal that information, so there is a discretion there,” Friedman explains. “But I would ask why exercise that discretion and retain that information and not make it public?”
FOX 8 reached out to both agencies, and neither released his information.
The JPSO said they are not leading the investigation, but are ready to assist.
LSP says they have reached out to the OJJ and offered assistance, but are not the lead agency either.
“Consider all the concerns that the public has for public safety. This is somebody who allegedly committed a very aggravated battery on a guard in order to escape,” Friedman said. “This person poses a threat to people in the community.”
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