Residents open carry in Lake Charles neighborhood, cite lack of police

NBC/KPLC
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POSTED: Friday, August 29, 2014 - 3:27pm

UPDATED: Monday, September 8, 2014 - 4:00am

Residents in one Lake Charles neighborhood say they're tired of escalating crime and want more presence from law enforcement.

They say they respect law enforcement but feel authorities could be doing more to deter crime, it's why many of them are taking matters into their own hands.

But they don't want to be labeled vigilantes. Rather, they hope authorities will do more to help them fight crime in their neighborhood.

The sight of children's toys on the lawn and waves from neighbors may look like an ordinary setting, but looks can be deceiving.

In what appears to be a quiet neighborhood, residents in Country Aire say they see their fair share of crime.

"The crime rate has gone way up," a resident here for six years, Jennifer Barker says it's time to go.

(Reporter): "Is crime a factor in you moving?"

"Absolutely it is. That's one of the key factors in me moving. I have to get my kids out of here," Barker says.

But other residents are actively trying to cleanup the neighborhood.

"I always open carry," says resident Trey Gordon, who believes the neighborhood watch approach is important in deterring crime. It’s why he normally openly carries his firearm.

But Wednesday wasn't an ordinary day.

"I hear screaming 'help help',"and that's when Gordon says he saw a man with a knife attacking a teenager.

"At that time I drew my weapon and I told him to drop his knife," Gordon tells KPLC-TV.

But that's when things got hairy.

"Not only was I handcuffed, but I was placed in the back of a cop car for thirty minutes," he says.

Gordon believes Calcasieu Parish Sheriff's deputies used 'excessive' force because when they arrived, the situation was over.

Plus, Gordon explains: "The one deputy told me basically because I kept arguing my rights that I was pissing him off so he was going to detain me."

But Sheriff Tony Mancuso says he sees nothing wrong with what happened: "I think the officers went out there and did what they were suppose to do."

Mancuso says they got a call about a man with a knife and a man with a gun.

In a situation like that, he says the officers and residents safety is paramount, which is why Gordon was detained.

"In this particular case last night, after we deciphered he was not a convicted felon, we sent him on his way, simple as that. But that is our job," Mancuso explains.

While not against open carrying, Mancuso does caution citizens about the consequences: "If they're gonna do that, one of the consequences may be that somebody could call in and say hey there's a suspicious person with a weapon, and we have an obligation to go check it out."

No injuries happened, but Gordon says if he hadn't had his firearm, things may have ended differently.

Gordon says he met with internal affairs at the sheriff's office and hopes the issue can be resolved without legal action.

The property manager of Country Aire also responded with a statement saying:

"They are taking incidents like this seriously and are working with the sheriff's office to get more patrols through the neighborhood."
 

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Unfortunately, Sheriff Mancuso has it wrong. A person with a weapon is not illegal. And carrying a weapon does not make a person "suspicious". This is Louisiana, and the state constitution says that open carry is legal. If someone is open carrying, there is no reason for the police to stop him unless he is under suspicion of having committed a crime, is in the process of committing a crime, or is going to commit a crime. AND just carrying a weapon cannot be the only reason for the suspicion. I open carry pretty much any time I am outside my home, and have never had any problems with law enforcement(I live in Ouachita Parish). In fact, I have walked right by police officers several times, and no incidents have occurred. Perhaps Sheriff Mancuso should read up on the law/constitution and then have a talk with his officers.

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