LAFAYETTE, La (KLFY) –A double homicide and quadruple shooting in Lafayette’s Moore Park around 1 A.M. Wednesday morning is raising the question of what needs to be done to prevent more tragedies.
Two young men, 19-year-old Jakyrie Clark and 18-year-old Nathaniel Sharply, both of Lafayette died in the incident. Two University of Louisiana Lafayette students were also injured.
News ten’s Neale Zeringue went to the park to learn what difference keeping park police could have made and what officials plan to do to fill the void they left.
A former park police officer said nothing like the double homicide happened in 40 years. The force would go as far as even shutting down parks at times to make sure unsafe events didn’t take place.
When questioned in an August council meeting what impact the Park Police made, Interim Lafayette Police Chief Scott Morgan said, “I’m not going to say we’re going to have that same expert level that the park police had because they were there all the time. When you take those people out or those people out, there will be some loss.”
Two months later District 5 Lafayette Parish Councilman AB Rubin said, “Did I know it was going to be of this magnitude? No sir, I didn’t.”
Rubin was the most vocal defender for keeping the Park Police program before it was defunded and disbanded to save money in the budget. After the tragic death of two teens early Wednesday morning, Rubin said, “I’m don’t want to point fingers. I’m looking for solutions.”
A former park policeman who chose not to be identified said the six officers would monitor social media to learn about possibly dangerous events before they would happen. When they heard about large events without lighting, security, or permits, they’d shut them down before they started.
Former Lafayette Parks and Recreation Director Gerald Boudreaux said the park police program was started under his department to ensure the 35 parks and 1800 acres of parkland were specifically monitored.
“We did not want to take the resources from the police,” explained Boudreaux. “Chief Morgan, he needs additional resources on the streets, and the parks are a unit and that’s why we went to this.”
With only six park police in total, LPD and LPSO always worked with them for larger events, but Boudreaux and Rubin argue with Park Police gone, something focused solely on parks again needs to take its place.
“Now that this has happened, it has to be on the radar screen that there are some openings and some liabilities in the park, and if the city police, the sheriff’s office this has to be high on the radar,” urged Boudreaux.
Rubin said he spoke to LPD about trying to create a special park unit. “And it just didn’t happen,” he added. “I think now it’s a little late for it, but I think now somebody might listen. I think now they see the urgency of us having someone that’s concentrating specifically on our Parks and Rec.”
Councilman Rubin also said the community has to be responsible for 300 people out so late at night.
“We’ve got some issues that we need to work with at LCG, but we need the community to step up, and we as men in our community, we need to take part and take responsibility for some of these killings,” he said.
“And stop pointing the finger. When you see some young people out there arguing don’t pop out your phone and yell. That’s not going to cut it for me,” he continued. “We have to hold each other accountable.”
Investigators with the Lafayette Police Department are asking for the public’s assistance with the collection of videos or photos from the deadly Wednesday morning shooting in Moore Park.
Individuals can upload photos and videos for investigators to review through this link.
Anyone submitting items for review is asked to leave their name, date of birth and phone number in the secured link, LPD Sgt. Wayne Griffin said.