State trooper shot during I-10 stop

Deidre Cruse, Government Reporter

A Louisiana State Trooper was shot twice at a traffic stop on the Ramah exit ramp of I-10 just after noon Saturday, the State Police reported.

Local firefighters and paramedics treated the trooper at the scene, and he was flown by Acadian Air-Med to Our Lady of the Lake Hospital in Baton Rouge, according to Sgt. Markus L. Smith of the State Police's Public Affairs Unit. He said the trooper, who is from Baton Rouge and asked for his name to be withheld, was released from the hospital on Sunday.

Two suspects, both from Texas, will be charged in the shooting.

According to the State Police:

Robert Daniel Armendariz, 21, of El Paso was traveling east on the Atchafalaya Basin Bridge of I-10 near Ramah when the trooper pulled him over for speeding.

The trooper stopped Armendariz's 2002 white Chevrolet Van at the exit ramp, got out of his vehicle and asked the van's driver to do the same.

“As Armendariz stepped out of his vehicle, he immediately turned towards the trooper and began firing several shots at the trooper with a handgun,” Smith said in a news release. “As the trooper took cover behind h is patrol car, he was struck twice by bullets form Armendariz's gun. Armendariz then fled the scene westbound on Interstate 10.”

Troopers from State Police Troop I intercepted the van near Henderson a short time later.

Armendariz and his passenger, Fabian Cruz Herrera, 20, of Houston, were booked into the St. Mary Parish Jail as fugitives before they were returned to Iberville Parish.

Chief Criminal Deputy Stephen Engolio of the Iberville Sheriff's Office said Armendariz was booked here on one count of attempted first-degree murder of a police officer, and Herrera as an accessory. The two men were sent to the West Baton Rouge Parish jail, he said.

“The oath that law enforcement officers give to protect the public must never be taken for granted,” said Col. Michael Edmonson, State Police superintendent. “In this incident, a traffic stop for a speeding violation quickly turned into a life and death struggle for one of our troopers. We are thankful that his injuries were not life-threatening.”