Sheriff spearheads coalition to curb spike in gun violence

Staff Report
Law enforcement officials have seen a substantial increase in gun violence in the past six weeks.

A coalition that includes the Iberville Parish Sheriff’s Office, all six municipalities and the West Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office aims to halt the surge in gun violence throughout the area.

Enhanced patrols will take to the streets and highways throughout the area as part of a goal to remove violent offenders and their weapons off the streets, Stassi said.

More: Sheriff Stassi: Stop the gun violence

The move comes in the wake of a rash of violence and confiscation of illegal firearms in the past several months.

“We’ve had a lot of shootings here … nobody killed, but some elderly person or some child will eventually be caught in the crossfire, and my main job here is to prevent that from happening,” Stassi told Post/South. “We’re doing to do our part by enhancing the patrols in the high-crime areas, where we’re seeing these incidents are occurring.”

Shootouts have left as many 30 rounds dumped on street corners.

More:Iberville Sheriff confiscates guns

“That’s too much lead to be flying,” Stassi said.

Law enforcement officials have seen a substantial increase in gun violence in the past six weeks.

One recent incident involved shootouts in Plaquemine and White Castle, which led to five arrests.

All of the arrests involved suspects under the age of 30, including two who were 18.

“It definitely has something to do with this age of young people who have these guns, and a lot of it is retaliation over attacks on social media and – believe it or not – putting a person’s name in a rap song,” Stassi said. “They’re disrespecting people in rap songs.”

Stassi said he does not want to see a generation of young people become a statistic.

“They need to remember what happened to Tupac (Shakur) and others … we just can’t go back there,” he said. “We’re a small community and we have talented young people here, and I want them to do the right thing and use their skills and talents to take care of themselves and their families.

“We don’t need a body count,” Stassi said.

He has also received reports of rental cars being returned with firearms left in the vehicles.

“We’re not talking about your average “Saturday Night Special” … some are high-tech assault rifles,” he said. “The moral values have weakened, some of these guns are stolen out of vehicles, we return them … stores out of Baton Rouge, Gonzales, we pick up and test them to make sure not used in homicides, and we’re doing everything we can to get these guns out of these hands.”

Stassi said he is a “staunch supporter” of the Second Amendment (The Right to Bear Arms), but communities need to get the weapons out of the hands of violent criminals.

The shootings have not yet led to fatalities, but the innocent will ultimately suffer the consequences, Stassi said.

“If someone is shooting at a car, a house is always a much bigger target, and we’ve already heard horror stories of babies being killed in the line of fire,” he said. “You can’t shoot guns this many times and expect that we’re going to continue to be lucky. “Our luck will eventually run out,” Stassi said.