Youth detained for arson released; steals and crashes vehicle

By Bonnie Culverhouse

An 11-year-old male child who was charged with arson last month is back at Ware Youth Center after stealing and crashing a vehicle early Wednesday morning.

According to Webster Parish Sheriff Jason Parker, the child was released from Ware one week ago due to lack of space.

“The child was using a metal rod to reach the pedals,” said the sheriff. “The vehicle was seen by one of my deputies weaving all over Shreveport Road. He couldn’t see who was driving but he observed the vehicle run a red light at the intersection of Shreveport Road and Erwin Thompson Drive.”

When the vehicle left the roadway, the deputy reportedly initiated lights and sirens.

“The driver increased speed and failed to stop,” Parker said. “The driver narrowly missed a marked Minden Police unit and continued eastbound on Broadway.”

According to reports, the driver turned onto Homer Road where the vehicle went into a spin and crashed.

“We attempted to block it in, but the driver slammed on the accelerator and intentionally rammed a marked Minden unit,” said the sheriff. “The driver then ran off the road onto the sidewalk and hit a second Minden unit before driving from Homer Road to Sheppard Street in the oncoming lanes.”

The vehicle reportedly crashed one last time at an abandoned business in the 900 block of Shreveport Road where deputies and officers safely secured the driver.

Minden Police Chief Jared McIver said the child was taken into custody on charges of aggravated flight from an officer, 2 counts of aggravated criminal damage to property, simple criminal damage to property, open container and running a red light.

McIver said he received a call about the pursuit around 1:30 a.m. Wednesday.

During the pursuit, top speeds were around 60 miles per hour.

“Damage to one of our units was pretty bad … light damage to the other,” McIver said. “No one was injured.”

In mid-December, the same child allegedly threw gasoline into a Morrow Street residence, demolishing it. He had been at Ware Youth Center in Coushatta since that time, but was released due to lack of space.

City Judge Sherb Sentell agrees there is a problem with juvenile crime, but lack of space pre-adjudication is causing many youth to be released to parents.

“Something must be done,” Sentell said. “We must have more space to house these young offenders.”

Sentell held a meeting Tuesday afternoon with state and local officials to discuss what can be done. See Tuesday’s WPJ for a story about it.

This information has been provided by a law enforcement agency as public information. Persons named as suspects in a criminal investigation, or arrested and charged with a crime, have not been convicted of any criminal offense and are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

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