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4 soldiers arrested for drive-by shooting in Louisiana

Police car lights. (Alexandru Cuznetov/Dreamstime/TNS)
September 22, 2021

Four U.S. Army soldiers have been arrested for a suspected gang-related drive-by shooting in Beauregard Parish, Louisiana on Monday.

The DeRidder Police Department and the Beauregard Parish Sheriff’s Office detailed the arrest in a joint statement which was shared on the DeRidder Police Department’s Facebook page.

The four soldiers, who Army Times identified as Pfc. Quazier T. Watterson, 19; Pfc. Trevian J. Cherry, 23; Spc. Joshua D. Galloway VI, 24; and Pfc. Tavon M. Williams, 19.

Fort Polk spokesman Shelby Waryas told Army Times that all four men are soldiers assigned to 3rd Brigade, 10th Mountain Division.

Police responded to reports of shots fired at around 11:25 p.m. on Monday night. Witnesses gave a description of a suspect vehicle, which was located a short later in nearby Leesville. Investigators later discovered five weapons inside the suspect vehicle as well as spent shell casings matching others found at the scene of the shooting.

One person was injured while escaping through a window to avoid the gunfire. That individual was taken to a hospital and treated for cuts from broken glass.

The four soldiers were arrested on charges of criminal conspiracy to commit attempted armed robbery, aggravated assault with a firearm, illegal use of weapons or other dangerous instrumentalities, and aggravated criminal damage to property

According to police, investigators believe this shooting incident is linked to another shooting incident at a residence on September 11 of this year. Police had arrested two other juvenile individuals earlier on Monday, in connection with that shooting.

According to a March report by the Army’s Criminal Investigation Command, which was obtained by way of a Freedom of Information Act request by Army Times, the Army determined gang-related activity in the service had declined. The report stated COVID-19 may be a factor in the drop in gang-related activity.

“The COVID environment may have reduced the number of criminal gang activities simply due to groups not being able gather in public without being noticed,” the report reads.

According to the Army report, 93 people were identified in the 2020 fiscal year as having a nexus to the Army who were later identified in law enforcement reports or criminal intelligence reports.

Of the 93 individuals identified in the 2020 report on Army links to gang activity, 52 individuals were linked to street gangs and 41 were linked to biker gangs.

By comparison, in 2019, the Army linked 101 individuals to street gangs and 144 people to biker gangs.

Soldiers linked to street gangs tended to be low ranking, while soldiers in biker gangs ranged in rank from private to major.