Some St. John suspects worked for Turner Industries - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

Some St. John suspects worked for Turner Industries; residents furious

Updated:
Resident outraged over news that some of the suspects landed jobs recently. Resident outraged over news that some of the suspects landed jobs recently.

LaPlace, La. -- People in St. John Parish are alarmed that some of the suspects in the shooting of four deputies last week were able to land jobs in the industrial corridor before the shootings took place.

"That's something that's unfathomable to me," said resident Trisha Entrekin.

Most of the suspects had recently been under surveillance in DeSoto Parish for suspicious behavior, and some had warrants out for their arrests, according to authorities.

"They need to screen these people a little bit better in advance before even allowing them into a situation like this,' said a resident who did not want his identity disclosed.

Late Monday afternoon, Turner Industries confirmed that some of the suspects were working for the company recently.

In a statement, Turner Industries Chief Administrative Officer Rick Scardina said, "Turner Industries was shocked and saddened to learn of the recent attacks against deputies of the St. John the Baptist Sheriff's Office… Turner Industries pledges its complete support and cooperation with all law enforcement officials involved in investigating these shootings.

"Some of the suspects were Turner employees, and due to the ongoing law enforcement investigation, we will not comment further regarding the employment status of any of the suspects," the statement said.

Residents said there should be better background checks, regardless of whether individuals are contract workers, as some of the suspects apparently were.

"If nothing else but for simply the safety of everyone around them, because you never know.  This is a perfect example," said Entrekin.

"Whoever was supposed to evaluate these people, evidently they didn't do their job or there was a lack of communication in their job," said another resident.

The anti-government group Sovereign Citizens, which some of the suspects are allegedly linked to, is no stranger to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

"We've been tracking Sovereign Citizens for some time," said Heidi Beirich, director of the SPLC's Intelligence Project.  She said the organization takes a hard-line approach against government.

"And what it is is an extreme anti-government position in which people who are members of Sovereign Citizens groups don't believe that government has any control over them at all, can't issue driver's licenses, Social Security number," she said.

Beirich is not familiar with the suspects in the shootings in St. John Parish, but she said other members of Sovereign Citizens organizations have engaged in violence against law enforcement officers in the past.

"Probably the most notorious incident [was] where Sovereign Citizens executed two police officers happened in May 2010 in West Memphis, Arkansas," she said.

Loyola University Professor of Criminal Justice Vincenzo Sainato remembers that incident.  "The son jumped out with an AK-47... there are documented cases, there's no doubt," Dr. Sainato said.

He said he recently attended a conference where the Sovereign Citizens group was being discussed.  "It's something that local law enforcement in Louisiana are actually trained to look for, because it is a concern," said Sainato.

Sainato said there is a lot law enforcement can learn from the tragic events of last week.  "This is just a reminder that there's no such thing as a typical traffic stop," he said.

Meanwhile, people in St. John Parish and nearby communities said, if someone had checked out the suspects more thoroughly, perhaps they would not have been able to get jobs in the area -- and, just maybe, four St. John Parish deputies would not have been shot.

"They would have moved on, they would have went on about their business," said a resident who did not want to be identified.

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