State Fire Marshal makes surprise visit to suspected group home after WBRZ report
BATON ROUGE- Less than 24 hours after a WBRZ Investigative Unit report showed a man with a checkered history of running group homes, investigators with the Louisiana State Fire Marshal's Office paid him a visit.
Erracia "Eric" Davenport was forced to shut down two group homes on Greenwell Springs Road last year after WBRZ reports showed residents living in squalor. Davenport was due in court Tuesday to answer questions about his alleged actions but didn't show up and a bench warrant was issued.
The State Fire Marshal's Office said although their investigation is ongoing Thursday, Davenport appeared to be in compliance.
"At this time it means a little more digging on our part," Ashley Rodrigue with the State Fire Marshal's Office said. "Information on who owns or leases the property and conversations with the occupants inside and what type of operations are going on here."
When WBRZ questioned Davenport about his bench warrant, he denied having one Wednesday and said he was at the courthouse earlier in the day to clear it. However, court records indicate Davenport showed up Thursday morning to finally get the problem rectified.
Inside the house Thursday, investigators found four mattresses and two people inside. A van that was parked in the driveway of the home on Wednesday was seen coming down the street, but when the driver saw the activity the van turned around. It's unclear how many people were inside.
According to a memo issued by the State Fire Marshal in 2011, owners are only allowed to rent to a maximum of three outsiders.
Davenport was questioned by WBRZ Chief Investigator Chris Nakamoto about being back in the group home business.
"Is your mammy running a group home? Stop asking me about my business," Davenport responded.
A bill sailing through the legislature would require group home operators to register with the municipality they are located in. Senate Bill 218 is set to be debated on the Senate floor Monday.
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