WBRZ http://www.wbrz.com/ WBRZ Local News Local News en-us Copyright 2014, WBRZ. All Rights Reserved. Feed content is not avaialble for commercial use. () () Thu, 24 Apr 2014 22:04:05 GMT Synapse CMS 10 WBRZ http://www.wbrz.com/ 144 25 Man accused of growing marijuana around kids http://www.wbrz.com/news/man-accused-of-growing-marijuana-around-kids/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/man-accused-of-growing-marijuana-around-kids/ Local News Thu, 24 Apr 2014 2:34:29 PM Russell Jones Man accused of growing marijuana around kids

GONZALES - Sheriff's deputies said they found dozens of marijuana plants and three small children in a Gonzales man's home Thursday.

The Ascension Parish Sheriff's Office arrested Richard Dent, 42, Thursday on suspicion of possessing marijuana and drug paraphernalia, cultivating marijuana, and using drugs around minors.

Detectives said for the past two months they'd received tips about possible drug sales at Ascension Town Homes on Cannon Road. On Thursday morning, deputies did an extra patrol at the complex and said they saw Dent smoking what looked like marijuana in the parking lot.

Deputies approached Dent, and said he admitted he was smoking marijuana. After getting permission to search his apartment, detectives said they found 30 potted marijuana plants behind the apartment, as well as three small children in the home. Deputies released the children to a family member.

Dent was booked into the Ascension Parish Jail, and was awaiting bond Thursday afternoon.


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3 children, 4 adults found living in a meth lab http://www.wbrz.com/news/3-children-4-adults-found-living-in-a-meth-lab/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/3-children-4-adults-found-living-in-a-meth-lab/ Local News Thu, 24 Apr 2014 11:37:42 AM Kevin Davidson 3 children, 4 adults found living in a meth lab

HAMMOND - Three children are in state custody after sheriff's deputies said they were discovered in a methamphetamine lab in Hammond Tuesday.

The Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff's Office said it was investigating a burglary on Wardline Road when detectives smelled the drug lab. Deputies said they got permission to search the residence, and discovered a lab that had contaminated the entire home.

Four adults and three children were removed from the residence. The children are eight weeks old, five years old, and nine years old. 

The Hammond Fire Department Haz-Mat team was called in for decontamination. All the residents had to remove their contaminated clothing and other items then be scrubbed with biodegradable soap.

The children were taken to North Oaks Medical Center to be checked for chemical exposure then taken into state custody.

The adults, Mark White Jr., 32, Tamara White, 29, Justin Kuffner, 30 and Jeffery Kuffner, 34, are charged with manufacturing methamphetamine and child endangerment.

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Senators kill proposal to raise minimum wage http://www.wbrz.com/news/senators-kill-proposal-to-raise-minimum-wage/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/senators-kill-proposal-to-raise-minimum-wage/ Local News Thu, 24 Apr 2014 12:34:02 PM Senators kill proposal to raise minimum wage

BATON ROUGE- Senators have rejected a proposal that could have increased the minimum wage in Louisiana, a vote that's expected to shelve the debate for the legislative session.

Without objection Thursday, the Senate Labor Committee killed the bill by Sen. Ben Nevers, a Bogalusa Democrat. The House Labor Committee earlier rejected a proposal to raise the minimum wage above the federal hourly rate of $7.25.

Under Nevers' proposal, voters in a statewide election would have decided whether to require businesses to pay at least $9.50 an hour.

Supporters say a wage increase would help the working poor in a state known for its poverty.

Business organizations opposed the proposal, saying it would lead to job losses and higher prices for goods and services.

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Senators reject repeal of law on class materials http://www.wbrz.com/news/senators-reject-repeal-of-law-on-class-materials-59803/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/senators-reject-repeal-of-law-on-class-materials-59803/ Local News Thu, 24 Apr 2014 12:19:04 PM Senators reject repeal of law on class materials

BATON ROUGE - An attempt to repeal a six-year-old law that permits public school science teachers to use material outside a classroom's adopted textbook has been rejected by the Senate Education Committee.

Senators voted 3-1 Thursday against the proposal from Sen. Karen Carter Peterson, D-New Orleans, which called for the removal of the Louisiana Science Education Act.

Critics of the law say that by allowing supplemental materials, science teachers could have a loophole to teach the concept of creationism.

Supporters of the law say it promotes critical thinking. They say guidelines adopted by the state education board prohibit promoting religious doctrine in supplemental materials and require that information teachers present must be scientifically sound.

The LSEA was first introduced in 2008 by Sen. Ben Nevers, D-Bogalusa, who said he introduced it at the request of the conservative Louisiana Family Forum to allow teachers to introduce creationist materials.

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Unanimous agreement to ban e-cig sales to minors http://www.wbrz.com/news/unanimous-agreement-to-ban-e-cig-sales-to-minors/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/unanimous-agreement-to-ban-e-cig-sales-to-minors/ Local News Thu, 24 Apr 2014 8:54:44 AM Unanimous agreement to ban e-cig sales to minors

BATON ROUGE - Both the House and Senate have unanimously agreed to outlaw the sale of electronic cigarettes to anyone under the age of 18 in Louisiana, similar to the state's existing ban on cigarette sales to minors.

The House voted 88-0 Thursday for the bill (House Bill 1264) by Rep. Frank Hoffmann, R-West Monroe. A similar measure (Senate Bill 12) has received the support of the Senate. One of the bills will need to get approval from both chambers to get final passage.

The bills would add e-cigarettes, vaporizers and other alternative nicotine products to the list of items that, like cigarettes, cannot be sold to anyone under the age of 18 in the state.

E-cigarettes and vaporizers are battery-powered devices that provide users with aerosol puffs that typically contain nicotine, and sometimes flavorings like fruit, mint or chocolate. Users get their nicotine without the chemicals, tar or odor of regular cigarettes.

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Power back on in Baton Rouge after mass outage http://www.wbrz.com/news/power-back-on-in-baton-rouge-after-mass-outage/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/power-back-on-in-baton-rouge-after-mass-outage/ Local News Wed, 23 Apr 2014 6:24:03 PM Trey Schmaltz Power back on in Baton Rouge after mass outage

BATON ROUGE- Power is back on for nearly 30,000 people in Baton Rouge after a widespread outage Wednesday night.

Entergy blamed the mass power outage on equipment failure in a news release Wednesday evening.

The two-line synopsis of what happened came about two hours after services spiraled off line. When it started, only a few thousand were out and by 8:30, outages had tripled.

A spokesperson said the issues was centered on a "major transmission line."

The outage was clustered in three separate, large areas: the Merrydale area, Airline Highway and Florida near the mall and neighborhoods surrounding it, and extreme southeast East Baton Rouge.

A frustrated Mayor Kip Holden called the WBRZ News 2 newsroom to express his frustration with the situation. 

"The one thing I'm going to make a point of tomorrow is calling the Public Service Commission," Holden said.  He thought the company could have responded faster to the issue, or had a better grasp on what was happening.

Others, though, were bothered but made light of the situation on social media.  Twitter users created the hashtag - a way of categorizing Tweets- #BRBlackout. 

Entergy even categorized the event as a "major outage."

Follow the publisher of this post on Twitter: @treyschmaltz


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Connector street plans moving forward http://www.wbrz.com/news/connector-street-plans-moving-forward/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/connector-street-plans-moving-forward/ Local News Wed, 23 Apr 2014 9:21:51 PM Trey Schmaltz Connector street plans moving forward

BATON ROUGE- City leaders agreed Wednesday, it is time to study a new way to get from Highland Road to Burbank.

The Metro Council approved moving forward with looking at possibly connectors. Planners have already focused on Kenilworth or Seyburn Drive.

A previous WBRZ News 2 report showed that Kenilworth could be problematic because the city would need to remove a cemetery and hardware store for the street to extend over Highland and continue down to Burbank.

The Department of Public Works plans to make a decision on how to connect Highland and Burbank in the next six months.
Follow the publisher of this post on Twitter: @treyschmaltz



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Council paves way for new interstate ramps http://www.wbrz.com/news/council-paves-way-for-new-interstate-ramps/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/council-paves-way-for-new-interstate-ramps/ Local News Wed, 23 Apr 2014 8:15:49 PM Brittany Weiss Council paves way for new interstate ramps

BATON ROUGE - The Metro Council has approved hiring a group to survey land for a future Greenlight project involving an interchange at Pecue Lane and I-10.

The proposed project would include multiple through and turn leans on Pecue Lane, an entrance ramp and exit ramp on both sides of the interstate and the replacement of the two-lane overpass bridge.

The director of the Department of Public Works says anytime you can give people another option to get on and off the interstate, it's a good thing.

"Just having another option for motorists to enter and exit I-10 between Highland and Siegen, we think will be a big bang for the buck project," said David Guillory.

DPW says the future project would resolve traffic issues on Airline Highway and backups at surrounding interstate exits.

In 2010, Pecue was straightened out and improved with a larger intersection at Perkins Road. The parish also opened a new intersection at Airline and Pecue to account for traffic entering and leaving Woman's Hospital.

People who live off Pecue have been waiting for more updates to help them get to their destinations even faster.

"We either have to go down to Highland or get off at Siegen and the Siegen light is ridiculous," said Rob Johnson. "I think they have to, it's dangerous the way it is."

DPW says this project could pave the way for even more development.

"There's a lot of land around that area that would probably become an economic driver for the parish with the addition of an interchange," said Guillory.

Shread-Kuyrkendall and Associates, Inc. will begin surveying the land around Pecue in the next 30 days.

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Man accused of suffocating dog with Cheetos bag http://www.wbrz.com/news/man-accused-of-suffocating-dog-with-cheetos-bag/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/man-accused-of-suffocating-dog-with-cheetos-bag/ Local News Wed, 23 Apr 2014 7:33:06 PM Ryan Naquin Man accused of suffocating dog with Cheetos bag

BATON ROUGE - Deputies are searching for a man accused of suffocating a family dog with a Cheetos bag.

Shaun Parsons, 23, of Baton Rouge faces aggravated cruelty to animal charges.  Parsons was renting a room with April Sarau and her family on Goodland Dr. near Greenwell Springs Blvd.  Parsons and Sarau are family friends from Tennessee.

Sarau rescued a dog, Sport, for her four-year-old son in December.  According to a warrant, Parsons became irate when Sport ripped his couch.

He texted a picture of the couch to Sarau blaming the dog and soon after, sent another text saying "your dog is dead", East Baton Rouge sheriff's office investigators say.

The dog suffocated in the potato chip bag.

After an investigation, deputies believed Parsons suffocated Sport.

"He was not a bad dog at all," Sarau said. "He was just a puppy. He was so innocent. He was just a baby."

Investigators found feces near the torn couch and footprints leading to Parsons bedroom where the dog was found.

Deputies have attempted to contact Parsons several times, according to the warrant.


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Movie studios, Costco & bank now inside city limits http://www.wbrz.com/news/movie-studios-costco-and-bank-now-inside-city-limits/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/movie-studios-costco-and-bank-now-inside-city-limits/ Local News Wed, 23 Apr 2014 4:22:32 PM Trey Schmaltz Movie studios, Costco & bank now inside city limits

BATON ROUGE- City leaders approved annexing a new big box retail store, the movie production studios and a bank at their meeting Wednesday afternoon.

Costco, Celtic, and a credit union along Airline Highway and its intersection with I-12 are now inside the city limits of Baton Rouge. The move eliminates the chance the facilities could fall within the City of St. George, should the planned community get approved by voters.

"It's a logistical issue," Patrick Mulhearn, executive director of Celtic Studios, told WBRZ News 2 previously. "We've been asking for annexation for a while now."

He said it creates issues for producers who have to have multiple law enforcement agencies and fire departments on set.

The super store opens Friday.

Councilman Buddy Amoroso said the issue was not about St. George, however, because the move has been in the works for a while and the area was not included in the limits of the proposed city.
Follow the publisher of this post on Twitter: @treyschmaltz


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LSU researcher makes waves with storm surge database http://www.wbrz.com/news/lsu-researcher-makes-waves-with-storm-surge-database/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/lsu-researcher-makes-waves-with-storm-surge-database/ Local News Wed, 23 Apr 2014 3:04:40 PM Rob Krieger LSU researcher makes waves with storm surge database

BATON ROUGE- Some areas along the Gulf coast may be more susceptible to storm surges than others, according to research done by climatologist at LSU.

Hal Needham led the charge to create SURGEDAT, a comprehensive database that compiles storm surge data from hurricanes and tropical storms dating back to the 1880s.

"We have about 130 years of storm surge observation, everything from federal documents, historic newspapers, academic documents, this enables us to understand what happens along the gulf coast as far as storm surges and hurricanes," said Needham.

The data shows that some places historically have more risk when it comes to higher surge impacts.

"The track of the hurricane does affect how much you get hit, but certain areas, like Shell Beach, the coast of Mississippi, are more vulnerable than a place like Morgan City for example, so it can really help people prepare and understand the risk and the surge potential in their area," said Needham.

To see the interactive maps and check out the data visit SURGEDAT.

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Pet fee increase introduced by Metro Council http://www.wbrz.com/news/pet-fee-increase-introduced-by-metro-council/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/pet-fee-increase-introduced-by-metro-council/ Local News Wed, 23 Apr 2014 4:14:31 PM Rebecca Buchanan Pet fee increase introduced by Metro Council

BATON ROUGE - It may cost more for pet registration in East Baton Rouge Parish.

The Metro Council introduced a fee increase for the Companion Animal Alliance shelter. An amendment asks for money to help get control of strays. Each year pet-owners would pay $3 more for spayed or neutered pets, and $10 more for pets that aren't fixed.

"I think that it's an excellent idea that they're raising the prices especially if it's going towards medical care spay and neuter programs for strays and then getting strays back out to be adopted by great families I think it's an excellent idea," said Grady Bailin, a dog owner in Baton Rouge.

Christel Slaughter, the Chairman for the Companion Animal Alliance, says they've also introduced an ordinance that will help, specifically with feral cats.

"Part of what we want to do is change the cat ordinances so that we're able to do what other progressive cities do which is trap the cats spay and neuter them and then re-release them so that we're really reducing the amount in the shelter and reducing disease and euthanization," explained Slaughter.

Both of these issues will be heard on May 14.

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Parents, educators call Jindal on Common Core http://www.wbrz.com/news/parents-educators-call-jindal-on-common-core/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/parents-educators-call-jindal-on-common-core/ Local News Wed, 23 Apr 2014 3:18:16 PM Jason Newton Parents, educators call Jindal on Common Core

BATON ROUGE - Groups are calling on Governor Jindal to stand firm in his support of Common Core standards. The governor recently flip-flopped, backing off supporting the same standards he once endorsed.

Parents and educators are trying to show the governor the strength in their numbers by delivering a petition with over 5,000 signatures Wednesday at the Capitol.

"We want him to focus on Louisiana," said Yolanda Braxton, a mother of three students in East Baton Rouge Public Schools. "He's our governor here in Louisiana."

Braxton said Jindal is putting political ambition over what's best for the state's children.

'I think the governor's decision has been very political," Braxton said. "I think it's more political for him running for president."

Common Core standards were adopted four years ago. Until recently, Jindal was a strong supporter of the standards developed to help students compete nationally. The governor's reversal has some educators worried.

"Pulling out of the Common Core now would be a mistake because we're finally starting to see the results of it," said B.J. Bertucci, a teacher at St. Amant High School.

Some educators also said that the fruits of their hard work are in jeopardy if the state pulls out too fast.

"We have worked tirelessly developing unit plans, getting units together, in order to teach these standards," said Lauren Trahan, Iberia Parish teacher. "We've been working since 2010."

A statement from Governor Jindal's office said he looks forward to working with legislators to address education concerns.

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Amedisys to pay $150M for false Medicare claims http://www.wbrz.com/news/amedisys-to-pay-150m-for-false-medicare-claims/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/amedisys-to-pay-150m-for-false-medicare-claims/ Local News Wed, 23 Apr 2014 11:29:24 AM Russell Jones Amedisys to pay $150M for false Medicare claims

BATON ROUGE - The Department of Justice announced Wednesday that Amedisys Inc., a Baton Rouge-based home health care provider, agreed to pay $150 million to resolve allegations they filed false Medicare claims.

The federal government said between 2008 and 2010 Amedisys improperly billed Medicare for ineligible patients and services, and misrepresented patients' situations in order to boost payments according to the DOJ. 

"It is critical that scarce Medicare home health dollars flow only to those who provide qualified services," said Stuart F. Delery, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division. "This settlement demonstrates the department's commitment to ensuring that home health providers, like other providers, comply with the rules and don't misuse taxpayer dollars."

Prosecutors noted that the settlement does not admit guilt. The settlement also ends seven whistleblower lawsuit brought against Amedisys, mostly by former employees, who will collectively split more than $26 million.

Amedisys is one of the biggest home health service providers in the U. S., operating in 37 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. The company said in an emailed statement they disputed the claims, but settled to "avoid the cost and uncertainty inherent in protracted litigation."

"We are pleased to put this matter behind us," said Ronald A. LaBorde, President and Interim Chief Executive Officer.

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APSO: Pair caught with numerous narcotics, guns http://www.wbrz.com/news/apso-pair-caught-with-numerous-narcotics-guns/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/apso-pair-caught-with-numerous-narcotics-guns/ Local News Wed, 23 Apr 2014 2:03:06 PM Russell Jones APSO: Pair caught with numerous narcotics, guns

GONZALES - Authorities accused two people of selling narcotics out of their Ascension Parish home Wednesday.

Sheriff's deputies and members of the Gonzales Police Department arrested Timothy Sheehan, 48, and Melanie Diebold, 30, after a search of their Gonzales home.

Narcotics detectives said they'd received reliable information that illegal drugs were being sold at the home on East Asphodel Street. After Wednesday's search, detectives said they found a number of different pills, heroin, cocaine, marijuana, testosterone, drug paraphernalia, and numerous firearms in the home with Sheehan and Diebold.

APSO Chief Tony Bacala said the arrests came as part of a joint narcotics investigation involving the sheriff's office and Gonzales Police.

The two were both accused of drug possession with intent to distribute, and received $40,344 bonds after being booked into the Ascension Parish Jail.


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3K people owed settlement proceeds from Citizens Insurance http://www.wbrz.com/news/3k-people-owed-settlement-proceeds-from-citizens-insurance/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/3k-people-owed-settlement-proceeds-from-citizens-insurance/ Local News Wed, 23 Apr 2014 1:21:22 PM 3K people owed settlement proceeds from Citizens Insurance

BATON ROUGE- If you are one of roughly 3,000 individuals who participated in a class action lawsuit against the Louisiana Citizens Property Insurance Corporation and never claimed your settlement proceeds, the money is now Unclaimed Property.

That's according to State Treasurer John Kennedy.

"Regardless of the reason why this money was never claimed, it's our job to return it to you," said Treasurer Kennedy.

The Treasury deposited $5.5 million in settlement proceeds on March 31 and loaded the names of participants into its Unclaimed Property database.

The proceeds come from a class action lawsuit that was filed against Citizens for the slow adjustment of claims after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

The state's Unclaimed Property Division received the proceeds for class members who did not collect their payment or who never cashed their checks.

All searches for unclaimed Citizens class action settlement proceeds should be done using the Treasury's main Unclaimed Property search page on www.LATreasury.com or by calling toll-free 1-888-925-4127.

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Bill mandating life support for pregnant women approved http://www.wbrz.com/news/bill-mandating-life-support-for-pregnant-women-approved/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/bill-mandating-life-support-for-pregnant-women-approved/ Local News Wed, 23 Apr 2014 1:14:36 PM Brian Waldrep Bill mandating life support for pregnant women approved

BATON ROUGE- Louisiana lawmakers are considering a bill that would require doctors and hospitals to use life support to keep brain-dead pregnant women alive until they give birth, no matter a family's wishes.

The House Health and Welfare Committee backed the proposal Wednesday without objection.

The measure by New Orleans Rep. Austin Badon now moves to the full House for consideration.

Badon, a Democrat, says he wants to "give the unborn child a chance." He described his bill as protecting the sanctity of life.

Julie Schwam Harris, a New Orleans resident who spoke in opposition to the proposal, says it could set a dangerous precedent, putting government between a woman and her family and a woman and her doctor.

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Recall petitions filed for Gonzales city council members http://www.wbrz.com/news/recall-petitions-filed-for-gonzales-city-council-members/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/recall-petitions-filed-for-gonzales-city-council-members/ Local News Wed, 23 Apr 2014 12:21:38 PM Brian Waldrep Recall petitions filed for Gonzales city council members

BATON ROUGE- Petitions have been filed with the Secretary of State's office to recall a pair of city councilmen in Gonzales.

A group called "Save Gonzales" wants councilmen Timothy Vessel and Gary Lacombe recalled.

They say the two are more concerned with playing politics, instead of serving the people.



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Louisiana Senate to consider equal pay proposal http://www.wbrz.com/news/louisiana-senate-to-consider-equal-pay-proposal/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/louisiana-senate-to-consider-equal-pay-proposal/ Local News Wed, 23 Apr 2014 11:09:09 AM Lauren Langlois Louisiana Senate to consider equal pay proposal

BATON ROUGE - Senators will consider whether to prohibit private businesses in Louisiana from paying unequal wages to employees of different genders for the same job.

The equal pay proposal by New Orleans Sen. Karen Carter Peterson received the backing Wednesday of the Senate and Governmental Affairs Committee.

Supporters said Louisiana has the second largest gender pay gap in the country. Peterson said pay inequity in the state hurts the morale and welfare of Louisianians.

Opponents of the proposal include business organizations, but they did not testify Wednesday before the committee.

After the hearing, Kristi Williams, with the Louisiana Association for Business and Industry, says current laws provide adequate protection for workers from gender-based discrimination.

The bill moves to the Senate floor for consideration

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BRPD: Chicken shack robbed http://www.wbrz.com/news/brpd-chicken-shack-robbed/ http://www.wbrz.com/news/brpd-chicken-shack-robbed/ Local News Wed, 23 Apr 2014 10:50:53 AM Russell Jones BRPD: Chicken shack robbed

BATON ROUGE - Police asked for the public's help identifying two armed robbers who held up a fast food place in Baton Rouge overnight.

Cpl. Don Coppola said the men came into the Chicken Shack at 413 N. Acadian Thruway through an employee entrance just before 11 p.m. Tuesday. Coppola said they demanded employees cleaning up the restaurant to give them money from the registers, then fled the business.

Police said the first suspect was a black male with heavy build, around 18-20 years of age, 5'8"- 5'10" wearing a light color bandana with a latex glove on his right hand. The suspect also was wearing a blue McKinley High pullover with gray pants.

Investigators said the second suspect was also a black male, with a medium build around 18-20 years of age, 5'5"- 5'7" wearing a black hooded sweat shirt with dark pants and a dark bandana concealing his face.

There were no injuries reported from the robbery.

Anyone with any information about this crime should contact the BRPD Armed Robbery Division at (225) 389-3845.


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